Crisis Intervention Pilot Program: Project EmPOWER


Project EmPOWER launches in Broward County to engage law enforcement and youth in positive interactions

Policing in America is facing a crisis of legitimacy and purpose. United Way of Broward County is pleased to announce that it has received a $1,000,000 grant from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) to implement a pilot program entitled Project EmPOWER that will aim to engage law enforcement and youth in positive interactions while participating in service-learning projects chosen by the youth participants.

Created in partnership with Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) of Broward County, Project EmPower is a preventative intervention to alleviate the heightened threat of the policing crisis in America. Youth interactions present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for law enforcement. For many youth, their first encounter with anything justice-related whether in school, their neighborhoods, or social service settings, is through law enforcement. The nature and circumstances of this contact can have a significant and lasting impression on a young person. The goal for Project EmPOWER is to implement evidence-based strategies to increase the efficacy of community policing, while also serving as an opportunity to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) related fields that will help build resiliency of youth participants. 

“With this program in effect, it will provide a bonding relationship between our local law enforcement officers and our children, they will become protective figures,” said Kathleen Cannon, President/CEO of United Way of Broward County. “The need to create opportunities like this in schools and in the community is crucial and will create positive, interactions with our law enforcement officers. Something that is so important for our future generations.”

Participating law enforcement officers will take part in cultural learning opportunities and trainings that promote empathy, crisis de-escalation skills, and overall increase the use of interpersonal skills that will help foster working relationships with the communities they serve.  Project EmPOWER will produce opportunities and spaces where law enforcement and youth ages 10 – 17 can engage in positive team building interactions that create trust and rapport while participating in service-learning projects that incorporate community beautification with an emphasis of promoting STEAM. 

This pilot program will start in Broward County and can be replicated state-wide by other interested Crisis Intervention Teams or coalitions. The program will use enhanced experiential training and monthly service projects to increase the positive interaction and empathy building between law enforcement and targeted youth.

“FPL is committed to investing in programs that make a difference in diverse communities,” said Juliet Roulhac, FPL external affairs regional director. “We’re glad to be able to work with community partners to continue to bridge gaps to help move our beautiful state forward so it can remain a great place for future generations.”

Additional partners include municipal police departments, Broward Sheriff’s Office and youth serving organizations, such as Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Memorial Community Youth Services, and the YMCA.