by Anneli Rufus
A brand-new program will connect Berkeley teenagers and law enforcement — but in a good way.
Set to hold its first session on Monday, the eleven-week program is called the Police and Life Academy For Youth (PLAY).
Topics to be addressed during the program will be "an introduction to criminal justice and policing, conflict resolution, emergency preparedness, health, fitness, and career opportunities," according to a bulletin just received from the Berkeley Police Department, which adds:
"In July of 2010, the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) awarded a $25,000 grant to PLAY. The fund provides many grants to community service programs that enhance the economic, socialn or cultural well-being of City of Berkeley community members. PLAY is a partnership between the City of Berkeley Police Department, (BPD) the University of California Police Department, Berkeley (UCPD), and the Berkeley Boosters. PLAY links law enforcement agencies with the Berkeley Police Activities league (PAL), the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), as well as the City of Berkeley business community.
"BPD Chief Michael K. Meehan and UCPD Chief Mitch J. Celaya will be on hand to introduce the academy and speak to the Berkeley High School students who will participate in this special opportunity. BPD Chief Michael K. Meehan says, “Connecting with youth to contribute to their success is one of the most important things we can do as a community and as members of our respective police departments.”
PLAY was one of fifteen projects to which UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau awarded nearly $225,000 in grants through the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund last week. The fifteen projects are aimed at improving public safety, aiding the local environment, and closing the achievement gap. A UC Berkeley news release, details these programs:
"Berkeley Project: mobilized over 1800 UC Berkeley student volunteers to help beautify and improve Berkeley’s parks, schools, marina and public spaces. This year, the Associated Students of the University of California's (ASUC’s) Berkeley Project and Willard Neighborhood Association are teaming up for the citywide Berkeley Project Day this fall and Berkeley Project Month next spring to create activities that will bring UC Berkeley students and permanent residents together. ($5,000)
"Berkeley Scholars to Cal: Stiles Hall and Graduate School of Education faculty will match African American and Latino UC Berkeley student mentors with low-income students of color in Berkeley’s public schools for comprehensive, ongoing college preparation. ($25,000))
"The BOSS Village Playground Project: The Berkeley Rotary Club and UC Berkeley student Rotaract members will build an outdoor playground for homeless children living in BOSS’ Ursula Sherman Village in West Berkeley. ($19,000)
"Community in the Classroom: Up to 250 UC Berkeley student scientists, working with Cal Teach and the Cal Corps Public Service Center, will bring hands-on science education to Berkeley's elementary schools. ($9,807)
"FACE (Families Advocating for Change in Education): Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA) will convene the Parent Engagement and Training Initiative to develop the leadership and organizational capacity of low-income and underserved families of color living in South and West Berkeley in support of closing the achievement gap in Berkeley’s schools. ($12,500)
"The Green Star Schools Pilot Program: The Green Schools Initiative and the UC Center for Cities and Schools will pilot the new model Green Star Schools certification program in Berkeley and engage elementary school students in a service-learning program to “green” their school by reducing waste, pollution, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. ($21,450)
"Greening Berkeley Hands-On: Berkeley Partners for Parks will coordinate community and UC Berkeley student volunteers to make safety improvements in several parks, gardens and pathways throughout the city. ($5,000)
"The Landscape Improvement Project for First Church of Christ, Scientist, will implement the landscape plan developed last year for this landmark facility with support from UC Berkeley's landscape architect and City and Regional Planning faculty. These improvements include defensive landscaping that should reduce the negative impacts of nearby People’s Park. ($15,000)
"The Le Roy Steps Safety Project: Northside neighbors and the University of California Police Department (UCPD) have partnered to install pedestrian lighting to improve public safety on the historic Le Roy Steps, a well-travelled short cut for students and residents visiting the campus. ($7,160)
"Mapping Environments: Kala Art Institute's Artists-in-Schools Program places math coaches from UC Berkeley’s Bay Area Mathematics Project and teaching artists from the Kala Art Institute in residencies in all three Berkeley middle schools where they will lead innovative workshops exploring relationships between art, math and the environment. The project will culminate in a permanent mural at King Park. ($20,000)
"The Police and Life Academy for Youth: Berkeley Boosters and police officers from the Berkeley Police Department and the UCPD will interact with Berkeley High School students from South and West Berkeley for eight weeks of interactive workshops designed to build positive relationships based on mutual understanding. ($25,000)
"The Southside Community Relations, Safety and Livability Liaison will work to improve communication, coordination and mutual respect between UC Berkeley's Greek community and Berkeley's permanent residents. ($5,000)
"The Spanish Grammar and Political Asylum Program: UC Berkeley students will improve their Spanish language skills in real life situations by assisting Berkeley's asylum-seeking immigrant community. This service learning partnership includes the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and UC Berkeley’s Spanish and Portuguese Department. ($20,000)
"The Summer Literacy Collaborative for Equity is a city-wide effort to promote reading and literacy skills retention over the summer that mobilizes over 75 UC Berkeley student tutors working with over 800 low-income youth in a partnership led by the Cal Corps Public Service Center and the Berkeley Public Education Foundation. ($15,055)
"The YMCA-PG&E Teen Center Rooftop Garden Project brings together Berkeley High School students and Cal Corps volunteers to create a safe and supportive place for teens. ($20,000)."
The first session of PLAY will be held in the multi-purpose room of the Ronald T. Tsukamoto Public Safety Building (2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley) at 4 p.m. on Monday.