Los Angeles Summer Night Lights Crime Prevention Program

Case Study | Community Benefits
Los Angeles Summer Night Lights Crime Prevention Program

Key Findings:

  • Gang violence can be reduced by keeping parks open and lit during peak summer night hours
  • Parks that are peak gang activity areas can be transformed into vibrant community spaces after dark with organized activities for at-risk youth and families

Program Details

The Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development’s (GRYD) created in 2007 to reduce gang-related violent crime. They determined that a lack of safe and accessible public space, oppressive economic conditions, and crowded housing situations created high levels of stress within families, potentially driving kids to hang out on streets and increasing their likelihood of becoming involved in unhealthy activities or becoming victims of violence and crime. To mitigate this problem, they designed Summer Night Lights (SNL), a program to aims to reduce violent crime while promoting peaceful, positive, and healthy activities.

Beginning with 8 Los Angeles parks in 2008, Summer Night Lights has expanded to 24 sites in 2010 and to 32 sites in 2013. In 2008, the Summer Night Lights program was credited with reducing gang violence to its lowest level since 1967. The city matched donations from philanthropic institutions to fund a range of entertainment, recreation, education, and artistic activities which take place during peak gang activity hours in the summer. All activities are free, and each SNL location is open from 7 – 11 PM on Wednesdays through Saturdays from late June through early August, and on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the remainder of August. These activities serve as a diversion from criminal activities for youth living in these areas and help build social connections that replace gangs. Gang intervention workers are assigned to moderate gang disputes and ensure that there are cease-fires at SNL parks. This strategy has become a nationally recognized success story for both reducing violence and building communities for safer cities. Formal evaluations of the Summer Night Lights program in 2009 and in 2011 can be found on the Urban Institute website.

Program Goals/Issues Addressed:

  • Reduce Gang violence
  • Build Community
  • Provide recreational and educational opportunities for at-risk youth
  • Make city parks safer

Organization Description:

The Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Foundation is a 501c3 public charity that aims to reduce gang violence and to promote positive youth development by providing safe and accessible public spaces. Using a place-based, comprehensive strategy, they combine crime suppression with prevention and intervention services aimed at ending cycles of gang violence. Their mission is “to create safer, healthier and stronger communities that we all can enjoy and be proud of, starting in Los Angeles… one individual and one family at a time.” While their main focus is Summer Night Lights, the GRYD Foundation also offers a tattoo removal program and an anonymous gun buyback initiative.
Photo from the GRYD Foundation website

Partnerships:

  • Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development
  • Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
  • Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Los Angeles Police Department
  • A Better LA
  • The full list of private, corporate, and philanthropic partnerships can be found on the GRYD Foundation website

Annual Program Budget and Funding Sources:

$1 million in private donations in 2008 matched by the city
$1.4 million in private donations in 2009 matched by the city
$2.1 million in private donations in 2010

Results Achieved:

In 2010:

  • 55% fewer shots fired (compared to 2008 baseline)
  • 57% reduction in gang-related homicides
  • 45% fewer victims shot
  • 710,000 participants
  • 382,000 meals served
  • 1,000 jobs created
  • 24 parks and recreation centers

In 2014:

  • 901,253 visits across 32 sites
  • 563,283 meals served
  • 15.4% reduction in gang-related crime compared to 2013 levels
  • 11,402 participants for Zumba clinics
  • 228 recipients of free HIV/STD testing and information
  • 19,177 participants for an SNL art workshop (including acrylics, mosaic art, silk-screening, and edible gardening)
  • 10,611 youth participants in sports leagues
  • Sport clinics with LA Kings, LA Galaxy, LA D-fenders, Play Rugby USA, CHIVAS USA, and WNBA/Coca Cola
  • Additional sports offerings include: dodge ball, flag football, volleyball, Zumba, ultimate obstacle course, ping pong, and 3-point shooting contests
  • 1,068 jobs created
  • 325 at-risk youth hired and provided with on-going training

Photo from the GRYD Foundation website

Contact Information:

The GRYD Foundation
6080 Center Drive, #600
Los Angeles, CA  90045
(310) 242-5674
Website Contact Form

 

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