NFL Selects Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Program For Social Justice Grant
(CLEARWATER, FL – December 15, 2022) –
The Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) program, conceived and launched nearly two years ago by Gulf Coast JFCS in partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, has been selected by the National Football League’s (NFL) Inspire Change social justice initiative.
The NFL’s Inspire Change initiative showcases how players, owners, and the league work together to create positive change in communities across America. Since 2017, the NFL has provided more than $244 million in national Inspire Change grants to more than 40 national grant partners and hundreds of grassroots organizations across the country in support of programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on their four priority areas of police and community relations, criminal justice reform, education, and economic advancement. The league’s Social Justice Working Group – comprised of five current and former players and five team owners – chose the local organization from more than 1.8 million registered nonprofits for uplifting the community through social justice.
Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Community Navigators and their clinical health team, in partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, are dispatched to non-violent, non-criminal calls to provide a therapeutic, wrap-around response. Begun as a pilot program with the City of St. Petersburg, the program has been renewed for an additional two years and is now becoming a model for agencies nationally and internationally including a feature in the Vera Institute of Justice’s Civilian Crisis Response Toolkit. Researchers with USF St. Petersburg, through Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg funding, are studying Gulf Coast JFCS as a best practice model as institutions across the country.
Since inception, CALL has:
- Completed 7,616 contacts (a combination of live calls, follow-ups, and referrals), served more than 3,000 people, and received over 1,000 Officer referrals.
- Majority (81%) of contacts were for behavioral or mental health distress.
- Every month, CALL responds to an average of 208 live calls and 118 follow-ups and receives between 60-80 referrals.
- Zero (0) violent incidents or injured have been incurred by CALL personnel.
- Petersburg Police is pleased to report a 17% reduction in suicide deaths since the CALL program’s launch despite a 60% increase in calls to the police department related to suicide.
The NFL grant enables Gulf Coast JFCS CALL program to serve youth better by reducing or prevent youth involvement with law enforcement as well as increase staffing and resources needed to address mental health and chronic medical conditions better.
“Receiving the NFL‘s Social Justice Grant affirms the importance of this work as an innovative approach to addressing today’s complex human services needs, recognizing that everyday struggles with behavioral health and poverty are not crimes and should not, therefore, be criminalized,” Dr. Sandra E. Braham, Gulf Coast JFCS President and CEO, says.
50% of all Floridians are one event away from a life-altering crisis with lasting effects on their safety, health, and well-being. To help the most people most comprehensively, Gulf Coast JFCS programs span a broad human service spanning the spectrum from housing and jobs, child adoption and welfare, senior and Holocaust survivor care, refugee resettlement, and mental and behavioral health. Started as a counseling and family support services agency for the Jewish community in 1960, Gulf Coast JFCS now serves all people in need. Since incorporation in 1974, Gulf Coast JFCS has become a critical component of the Florida’s safety net giving more than 30,000 vulnerable community members the tools to find safety, comfort, and a path toward a fulfilling life each year.
The agency has doubled their service reach in the last three years from a $25 million budget in 2019 to $50 million in 2022 and recently announced a growing senior leadership team as the nearly 50-year-old social services non-profit engages community support in their efforts to extend their capacity towards serving the rising numbers of Floridians in need.