In May 2018, WFW awarded its largest grant to date: $450,000 over three years to Buncombe Partners in Prevention, a collaborative involving Helpmate, Mountain Child Advocacy Center, Our VOICE and Pisgah Legal Services. The goal of the prevention project is to promote healthy relationships where people live, learn, work, play and worship, ultimately reducing the perpetration of sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse in Buncombe County. The project is off to a strong start.
With the goal of producing year-over-year comparative data to allow Buncombe County to track changes in community norms about violence, an Attitudes Toward Violence survey was developed. The Partners administered two baseline surveys with results sorted by zip code so that specific programming can be targeted to areas of high need.
In addition to changing community tolerances for violence, prevention work in the community works to create an environment in which survivors feel comfortable disclosing their experiences and reaching out for support. The Partners have provided educational programming to more than 7,500 people since July. Three prevention mini grants were awarded to organizations that provide programming to marginalized communities. The recipients were My Daddy Taught Me That, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) and De Mujer a Mujer.
Progress has also been made on a best practices tool for employers and schools focused on improving employee and student skills for building healthy relationships and effectively managing conflict. The Partners have worked with the HR Department from the City of Asheville, Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools, with multiple local bars and restaurants on anti-harassment policies, with salons, and with Mars Hill University, Warren Wilson College and UNC Asheville on bystander intervention programs.
Advocacy is an important tool for the Partners. Pisgah Legal Services has compiled a draft list of prominent policy advocacy initiatives for prevention. A white paper outlining these strategies will be published in the near future that will guide community members in their efforts.
The Partners acknowledge that while direct service and intervention work can be measured in years, prevention work is measured by generations. They are committed to a sustained effort toward the reduction of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse in Buncombe County.