Sacramento Area Congregations Together, or ACT as it’s better know, is a multicultural organization that empowers Sacramento residents to create a more healthy and less violent community. This organization is made up of 40 congregations, schools, neighborhood groups and 40,000 families from Sacramento. ACT’s purpose is to bring change by enlightening people that the greatest resource they have is their community. One of the ways ACT is improving the community is with their Youth and Gang Violence Prevention program.

The Youth and Gang Violence Prevention program has become a region-wide effort to bring a youth violence reduction strategy into Sacramento. This program has been set up so that ACT members and participating officers from the Sacramento Police Department can meet face-to-face and speak directly to the teens on the street involved in gangs and other violent situations. This strategy has been named the Ceasefire approach. The members of this organization try to show the youth that there is a brighter future ahead and provide them with assistance to move on to that better place.

ACT works together with several other organizations and is funded in part by the California Endowment in order to make their difference. The Ceasefire program is able to provide the willing youth participants with a living wage, jobs, counseling and much more community support to motivate and encourage the youth to make a positive change in their lives.

The heart and soul of the Ceasefire program are the “Call Ins.” That’s when targeted youth are brought in to meet with a panel of community members, youth formerly involved in the same type of violence, service organizations, criminal justice agencies, family members and faith leaders. This specific program is designed to show the youth that the community wants the offender to succeed but strongly reminds the youth that law enforcement will intervene if their violence in the community continues.

“Sacramento’s youth have becoming more violent and have been getting into more problems than ever,” says Officer Michelle Lazark of the Sacramento Police Department. “There are more than 4500 gang members in Sacramento so the Ceasefire program is a way that ACT is using to face these problems head on, and show other teens that there is a better way of life.”

If you know of a teenager or member of Sacramento’s youth that needs help, or to find out more about ACT and their programs you can visit their website at http://www.sacact.org/.