We envision a future

where law enforcement and citizens work together to build safer, healthier, happier communities. In South Carolina, that future is beginning to take shape.

Experts at fostering community engagement and building authentic connections among diverse groups of people, our evidence-informed practices are being implemented daily and the results give us hope.

We are rebuilding trust and creating new relationships through our Police Supporting Communities pathway.

Since its launch in August 2017, our Compassionate Acts Program has touched an estimated 5,000 lives in partnership with 21 police departments statewide. Notably, our Greg’s Groceries initiative has resulted in nearly 40,000 meals being delivered by police to people living in food insecure areas. Feedback from community recipients indicate that 88% of residents agree that the Compassionate Acts Program improves trust between police and community.

We are cultivating a culture of connection and support for law enforcement through our Communities Supporting Police pathway.

Since 2015, our Crisis Response Program has facilitated nearly $500,000 of community support for families of officers who gave their lives in service and those critically wounded in the line of duty. Furthermore, our Feed An Officer campaign has consistently engaged the community in providing an average of 500 lunches and more than $8,000 in gift certificates to local restaurants annually as a way of saying thanks to law enforcement officers throughout the Midlands.

We are facilitating strong police-community partnerships that infuse local resources into areas of need, providing hope and building stronger connections that enable communities to take immediate action.

Our Connected Communities events have brought together more than 57 partners, touched an estimated 3,050 lives, and ignited an estimated 22,100 connections. Data from these events indicate that they create safe, hopeful spaces that increase accessibility to available resources and promote a sense of community among police, community organizations, and residents. Importantly, several of our events, including the Daddy & Me 5K and Farmday Funday, have been replicated and grown across multiple years, demonstrating the sustainability of our model for driving change through partnerships.

We are creating a movement for change that is driven from the voices of those who live and serve in areas of high need.

The North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative (NCYEI) was launched in November 2018 as part of our COMPASS program. In less than a year, the movement engaged more than 180 people representing over 70 organizations, including our key police partners, the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. What began as a seed of hope has grown into a tidal wave of change facilitated by the voices, hearts, and vision of the NCYEI partners. Successes include a 2019 Farmday Funday event which provided 20,000 meals to 600-800 people living in a food insecure community and a Summer Series hosted in North Columbia’s Booker Washington Heights community that facilitated fun and friendships among police, community partners, and residents. Guided by the success of the NCYEI, we are expanding our COMPASS model into four new counties in rural South Carolina.

We are sharing a model for effective police community safety partnerships that can be used nationally to ignite thriving, equitable communities.

A core aspect of our change movement is inspiring other communities to follow the Together. We Are Better. model. Aligned with this vision, we are working closely with our research and evaluation partners, including internationally renowned experts in implementation science – the Wandersman Center, to use formative learning to document, improve, and disseminate our knowledge of effective change. Furthermore, we are spreading our message nationally, such as through the presentation of workshops at the FBI National Academy Associates and through a national feature on NBC’s Today Show.

We are proud of these findings, and yet recognize that the real proof of impact will come in future years as we see reductions in crime and improvements in community development driven by hope, trust, and effective partnerships. While demonstrating this impact will take time, we already are beginning to see how our work is transforming the way police and community partners respond to crisis and foster resilience. For example, in our North Columbia community, our partners were able to rally in response to a traumatic shooting that occurred in an affordable housing community by providing trauma resources and positive opportunities for connection. This response would not have been possible prior to the authentic relationship development that occurred through our COMPASS efforts.

The future we dream of is possible if more people join our movement; if more people believe Together. We are Better.

Together. There is Hope.

Since our founding, Serve & Connect has helped thousands of individuals and families, but we want to do more.

Through our Together. We are Better. Movement and our growing portfolio of programs and service offerings, we aspire to increase our impact significantly over the next 24 months.

Our goals include:

Serve 30,000 individuals

Serve 7,500 families

Provide 10,000 boxes of Greg’s Groceries

Impact 23 South Carolina Counties

Add 6-8 COMPASS communities

“This thing really is an empowerment movement. It’s not about us. It’s about empowering people to use the resources available, and in return, become the assets in their own communities.”

- Dean Slade, community partner working with North Columbia COMPASS initiative