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Fact Sheet - Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program

March, 2019
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Fast Facts

  1. Since its inception in 1991, the Gang Resistance Education and Training program has graduated more than 7 million students. It has certified 14,610 law enforcement officers and professionals from 2,798 agencies as G.R.E.A.T. instructors.

  2. In 2018, 665 officers and law enforcement professionals brought the G.R.E.A.T. program into elementary and middle schools.

  3. In 2018, 201,483 students from elementary and middle school participated in the G.R.E.A.T program.

The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program is a gang, violence, delinquency and bullying prevention program provided to middle and elementary school students that is used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and its law enforcement agency partners. The mission of the G.R.E.A.T. program is to prevent youth crime, violence and gang involvement, and seeks to help students avoid violence, delinquent behavior, being recruited as gang members, while teaching them how to resist gang pressure and develop positive attitudes concerning law enforcement.

Image of a youth holding a fence

School children sitting at their desks looking a tablets while a teacher readers from a tablet
ATF and the Phoenix Police Department first collaborated to develop the G.R.E.A.T. program in 1991. It began as an eight-lesson middle school curriculum and the first G.R.E.A.T. law enforcement officers were trained in early 1992. Six years later, four law enforcement agencies joined to assist in the administration of the program: The La Crosse Police Department in Wisconsin, Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, Philadelphia Police Department in Pennsylvania, and Portland Police Bureau in Oregon.

The G.R.E.A.T. school program is taught by local law enforcement and specially trained ATF agents during the school year. In addition to ATF, federal organizations involved include the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The G.R.E.A.T program was evaluated by scholastic researchers and found to be effective in achieving its goals and is now listed on as a promising program.

Currently, there are four regions training areas:

  • Southeast 
  • Midwest Atlantic
  • Western
  • Southwest

In 2004, Congress transferred the administration of the G.R.E.A.T. program from ATF to the Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The National Policy Board (NPB) is the governing body of the G.R.E.A.T. program, which consists of chief executive officers from ATF and the other federal partners and law enforcement agencies. The mission of the G.R.E.A.T. program is to prevent youth crime, violence and gang involvement.

Program Components

Elementary School G.R.E.A.T. program

This six-week, skills-based elementary school curriculum for fourth and fifth graders provides information that produces attitudinal and behavioral changes in youth. It is taught in schools and focuses on positive behavior rehearsals, teacher activities, and cooperative and interactive learning techniques. Researchers believe children who display aggressive behavior during their elementary school years are more likely to display antisocial and violent behavior as adolescents and young adults. With the G.R.E.A.T. program and other prevention efforts, researchers believe there is an opportunity to stop negative behavior.

Middle School G.R.E.A.T. program

The middle school G.R.E.A.T. program is a 13-week curriculum that is designed for sixth and seventh graders. In the first evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. program in 1995, researchers recommended teaching the core curriculum at the entry level of middle school. Evaluators indicated that children undergo major transitions as they move from the fifth to the sixth grade, form new peer groups, and become more susceptible to the lure of gangs and peer group pressures.

Specially trained ATF and other uniformed law enforcement officers teach the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum in the classroom and train students to avoid gang pressure and youth violence. The curriculum also can work with other prevention programs that encourage positive relationships with parents, schools, and community and law enforcement organizations.

G.R.E.A.T. Summer Component

The G.R.E.A.T. summer program builds upon the school-based curriculum, adds structure to summer months, provides an opportunity to enhance social skills, and offers alternatives to gang involvement. Students engage in positive social, cognitive and interpersonal growth activities that range from field trips to sporting events. While the G.R.E.A.T. summer program is most beneficial when viewed as a reinforcement of the school-based initiative, students from other communities or programs do participate.

G.R.E.A.T. Families Training

The G.R.E.A.T. families program is a six-session course designed to strengthen families and assist communities. The curriculum engages parents and young people in cooperative lessons that facilitate communication among family members and enhance family decision-making skills.

The curriculum uses group interaction, activities, and skills practice to foster positive family relations and engage parents and children between the ages of 10 to 14. A G.R.E.A.T. facilitator works closely with one or two co-facilitators to guide as many as ten families (approximately thirty family members) through a variety of activities and discussions.

The G.R.E.A.T. Families curriculum is also linked to specialized family assistance resources that provide G.R.E.A.T. instructors with the tools needed to work effectively with families and family service agencies.

G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training

Certified G.R.E.A.T. officer-trainers provide instruction to aspiring teachers on teaching the school-based program to elementary and middle school students. Before they enter the classroom, incoming G.R.E.A.T. instructors receive 40-60 hours of instruction, based upon their classroom experience, skills and educational background. They also learn how to teach the G.R.E.A.T. summer component.

G.R.E.A.T. Program Statistics

Since its inception in 1991, G.R.E.A.T. has graduated more than 7 million students. It has certified 14,610 law enforcement officers and professionals from 2,798 agencies as G.R.E.A.T. instructors.

Fiscal year 2018 statistics for the G.R.E.A.T. program are as follows:

  • 665 officers and law enforcement professionals taught the G.R.E.A.T. program in elementary and middle schools
  • 3,894 schools (elementary and middle) taught G.R.E.A.T. curriculum
  • 15,508 classes graduated
  • 201,483 students from elementary and middle school participated based on student handbook distributed




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