Belize City Friends Centre Proposes Collective Impact Project

The theory behind establishing Belize City Friends Center was that socio-economic problems on the Southside were overwhelming and Friends alone would not solve them. Therefore, the Center was created to be a place for networking, to build relationships with organizations with diverse skills, expertise, and resources to solve these problems, which often manifested in the form of gang violence.

In the last five years or so, we have collaborated with the Police department and other local organizations to address problems such as improving relations between at-risk-youth and police officers, campaigning against human trafficking, and fostering gang resistance.In 2018, we attempted to grow this network further to address the problem of gang violence and build the capacity of local institutions and groups to use civic engagement tools and resources to build safer communities on the Southside. We developed a proposal and submitted it to the US Embassy for funding. We received feedback from the Embassy that our proposal was not successful, though it was among the best. One of the reasons we did not succeed was that we did not have a letter from any government agency in Belize to show that they would partner or support our work, if funded. We also did not have organizations in our network that the Embassy determined to have the capacity to support us to implement such a project on a large scale. We needed to address these problems to improve prospects.  This story of success and limitations was part of the conversations we had at the Inter-Visitation Committee Lounge, at Baltimore Yearly Meeting Sessions last summer. We had gathered to share about the work we do in Belize, the challenges we face, and what we hope we could accomplish if we had the resources and capacity to do so. John Buck, a Friend in the audience, took interest to follow up on this conversation and shared our story among his network in Washington DC. Three other organizations, International Police Executive Symposium (IPES), National Community Network (NCN) Group, and Circle Forward took interest and came on board to explore with us how we could work together to address the problem of gang violence in Belize City and its surroundings. Since last summer, we have worked on the concept, developed a proposal and a budget, and identified potential donors for the work, including the UN, US government, and one university. If the project proposal is successful, Belize City Friends Center will receive $250,000 per year over a period of three years to facilitate the project. The costs include resources to support the Collective Impact Project activities, hire staff to work on the project, and pay for the operations of the Center and the administrative costs involved.

International Police Executive Symposium (IPES) will provide funding and has secured the approval and support of the Belize government to partner with us on the project. National Community Network (NCN) Group and Circle Forward will be providing the technical support and consultation for the project implementation. Belize City Friends Center will be the backbone organization facilitating the project, while participating community organizations, groups, and schools, will be the beneficiaries of the project.Building on the work Belize City Friends Center has been doing to improve relations between police and at-risk-youth and address the problem of human trafficking, this project seeks to address gang-related crime, using the collective impact approach, which includes growing community networks, building local institutions, enhancing working relations and trust between police and the community, empowering children and youth to be active participants in seeking solutions to gang-related problems that affect their own communities, and improving the living conditions of the communities.We continue to hold meetings on the implementation of the project once the funding is available. International Police Executive Symposium leadership will travel to Belize in late February. They will meet with us and meet with the Belize government and the US Embassy to build support for the project.