In October of 2009, the City of Champaign experienced a major tragedy; the accidental shooting death of an unarmed, 15-year old male by a police officer. The tragedy strained the social fabric of the community and citizens publicly expressed their concerns about the shooting and other community issues.
The City responded with six major initiatives, one of which was hosting a Community Forum to allow citizens, police, and agencies that serve youth an opportunity to identify and discuss police and community problems and solutions.
More than 300 people attended the Community Forum. During the Forum, small group discussions were led by facilitators and extensive notes were taken to record the comments and suggestions from community members. Following the meeting, a working group was established to review the data collected at the Forum. The working group was tasked with finding common themes and formulating goals. After reviewing the data, the working group and City staff recognized that the problems facing at-risk youth would require a coordinated community approach that would involve a number of organizations and business partnerships.
Critial partners were identified and met to work on a plan to formalize a community response. The meetings resulted in the formation of a Community Coalition that developed a theme of working together for the good of the community. The Community Coalition developed goals and initiatives that would be addressed by the Coalition partners. The idea was simple: share resources and build upon existing programs that were already in place in the community. By working together and “Walking as One”, our community is better equipped to address social problems facing at-risk youth and police community relations. The Champaign Community Coalition identified four goals:
- Community Partners – focusing on building and developing partnerships in our community.
- Police-Community Relations – focusing on increasing communication and building positive relations in the community.
- Healthy Youth and Families – focusing on programs to ensure our youth are mentally and physically fit.
- Youth Development – focusing on resources to develop at-risk youth to their fullest potential.
After critical review of the successes achieved since then, the Executive Committee has been charged with creating a sustainable Plan that builds upon the successes of the past while growing the Coalition into a comprehensive model for the future.
This new Plan is a pathway to make our County stronger. You will see that the name has been changed to symbolize increased inclusiveness recognizing the growing partnerships that have been made. In addition, there have been changes made to the structure of the Coalition. However, despite these changes, this new Plan remains fully committed to the original vision and mission set for the Coalition in 2012.