About Project HOPE
The City of Wichita has an important governmental interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens, businesses, and tourists. This obligation includes protecting citizens from increased crime and preserving the quality of life, property values, and business investments as well as deterring the spread of blight. To address this, the City of Wichita has created Project HOPE as a collaborative effort to address issues of violent crime and homelessness within Wichita's urban center. To secure additional resources for Project HOPE, the City of Wichita looked to the goals and objectives of the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grant as a tool to secure grant dollars to fund local efforts for reducing the occurrence of violent crime, providing shelter and resources for the homeless population, and reducing homeless-related calls for police services within the Target Area identified on the map.
To learn more information, please read the Project HOPE Site Action Plan (PDF).
Sponsored and managed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Project HOPE is a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) grant-funded initiative that "supports Department priorities to reduce serious and violent crime, including gun violence; dismantle gang activity; and strengthen local capacity to combat drug abuse." The City of Wichita is proud to have been selected for this $1,000,000 grant award for the period of October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2023. The initiative is designed to reduce crime by building community partnerships between local law enforcement, city departments, community organizations, businesses, and residents (both housed and unhoused) and increasing safety in a defined Target Area.
There are four core BCJI elements that are inherent in the implementation of Project HOPE. Those core elements, as well as how the City of Wichita seeks to address them, are as follows:
Element 1 - Place-Based Initiatives
"BCJI sites target a specific geographic area within their communities known for high levels of serious and violent crime."
The City of Wichita's Project HOPE initiative has identified a specific geographic area that is known for high levels of serious and violent crime. All activities will focus both attention and project resources on the targeted portion of Downtown Wichita with added focus on specific crime "hot spots" where there is a concentration of criminal activities.
Element 2 - Data-Driven Efforts
"BCJI sites are strongly encouraged to work with local law enforcement and community stakeholders to conduct a broad examination of crime drivers in the Target Areas and consider appropriate innovative, data-driven strategies to address them."
Utilizing various data sources, the City of Wichita's Project HOPE initiative has developed an overview of the criminal context of the Target Area. The overview, or baseline, utilizes quantitative and qualitative data to identify gaps in service and ways to bridge those gaps to divert homeless individuals away from the criminal justice system.
Element 3 - Building Trust, Partnerships, & Capacity
"In order to implement BCJI successfully, sites take a comprehensive approach that targets hot spots and larger community challenges, which requires a strong set of partners and trust between them and the residents."
The Housing and Police Department partnered with a variety of formal and informal organizations to ensure a comprehensive partnership was created for the Project. Key partner organizations include the following: City of Wichita Council; Newman University; WorkForce Alliance; United Methodist Open Door; Substance Abuse Center of Kansas; Emprise Bank; Key Construction; Lane Enterprises (McDonald's); WaterWalk; The United States Attorney's Office; Project Safe Neighborhoods; Project Guardian; and the National Public Safety Partnerships. In order to foster trust between these organizations and ensure that the residents of the Target Area are included, a Core Leadership Team and Leadership Council have been created.
Element 4 - Community-Oriented
"To catalyze and sustain change, there must be active involvement and leadership by neighborhood residents, community organizations, and community leaders in engaging criminal justice partners, including law enforcement, throughout the revitalization process."
To begin the process of change in the Target Area, the Core Leadership Team has been actively involved in engagement in the following ways: creating a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying trends and patterns in the Target Area, directing and facilitating information sharing among previously siloed providers in the Target Area, ensuring monthly updates and analysis of ongoing concerns in the Target Area, and sharing with all providers relevant and credible changes that are being made in the Target Area.
As noted earlier, the BCJI model is framed by four core elements inclusive of core Element 3 (Building Trust, Partnerships, and Capacity) and Element 4 (Community-Oriented). The Core Planning Team has been actively involved in putting these elements into practice and application. Recognizing that there was no one agency that could effectively accomplish these goals alone, the following internal to the City of Wichita and external partners engaged with the planning table to explore ways to advance the goals of Project HOPE:
- Alexis Olave, Parole Supervisor, Kansas Department of Corrections
- Angeline F. Johnson, Grant Coordinator, Community Connections Consulting Services, LLC
- Brandon Johnson, Councilman, District 1, City of Wichita
- Brandy Niblett, Housing Specialist, Housing and Community Services, City of Wichita
- Corrie McCluskey, Officer, Wichita Police Department
- Dave Nienstedt, Lieutenant, Wichita Police Department
- Jonathan Spickelmier, Crime Analyst, Wichita Police Department
- Kristi Barton Edwards, Professor, Newman University
- Laurie Wolf, Controller, Housing and Community Services, City of Wichita
- Maggie Ballard, Councilwoman, District 6, City of Wichita
- Michelle Haupt, Program Specialist, Housing and Community Services, City of Wichita
- Nathan Schwiethale, Officer, Wichita Police Department
- Sally Stang, Director, Housing and Community Services, City of Wichita
- Santiago Hungria, Captain, Wichita Police Department
- Scott Nace, Outreach Programs Manager, United States Attorney's Office-District of Kansas
- Steve Burt, HMIS Administrator, United Way of the Plains
Collectively, the Project HOPE Core Planning Team as well as the Project HOPE Leadership Council will collaboratively work to advance the goals and objectives of the project.
Project HOPE Leadership Council 2023/2024 Quarterly Meeting Dates
- Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 5 pm
- Tuesday, July 26, 2023 at 5 pm
- Wednesday, October 18, 2023 at 5 pm
- Wednesday, January 31, 2024 at 5 pm
As noted earlier, the BCJI model is framed by four core elements inclusive of core Element 3 (Building Trust, Partnerships, and Capacity) and Element 4 (Community-Oriented). The Core Planning Team has been actively involved in putting these elements into practice and application through the establishment of the community-based Project HOPE Leadership Council comprised of the following community members and organizations:
- Dawn Shepler, Nonprofit Coalition Leader
- Denise Houston, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas
- Fred Linker, Community Member
- Kathy Bowles, ICT Street Team and Guadalupe Clinic
- Ryan Baty, Sedgwick County Commissioner, District 4
- Laura Ritterbush, CEO, Goodwill Industries of Kansas
- Open - Resident
- Maggie Ballard, Wichita City Council, District 6
- Makayla Nasser-Welch, Resident
- Matthew Tannehill, Lange
- Major Nancy Powers, The Salvation Army
- Phillip Webb, Community Member
- Rachel Newell, Breakthrough/ESS
- Richard Morrow, Morrow, and Co. LLC CPAs
- Open - Organizational Representative (Faith-Based)
Collectively, the Project HOPE Leadership Council as well as the Project HOPE Core Planning Team will collaboratively work to advance the goals and objectives of Project HOPE.