Domains of Expertise
The Mercyhurst University Civic Institute is a fee-for-service organization whose work is conducted mainly with local and state government organizations as well as non profit agencies. Efforts primarily focus in the five main areas noted below. Staff expertise and knowledge bases also provide opportunities in other domains at various times.
The Civic Institute designs and conducts ongoing program evaluations for county-funded community-based programming. The Civic Institute also facilitates the Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families (PPC), a board established through Erie County Council that oversees holistic prevention efforts countywide. The PPC serves as the prevention branch for a holistic approach addressing violence and other youth problem behaviors, including delinquency, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, school dropout, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The Civic Institute has engaged with local criminal justice systems and agencies for many years, assisting in the development of policy, programming and community policing and enforcement strategies that are data-driven and evidence-based. Staff work in tandem with local police, probation departments and legal personnel to guide our community in efforts to bring about systemic adaptations that benefit both those involved in the criminal justice community, as well as concerned citizens. The Civic Institute has completed multiple evaluations of criminal justice programs in Erie County, and has helped to design and fund large initiatives that have been noted at the regional, state and national levels. Staff have also facilitated the Erie County Criminal Justice Coalition and the local planning board for over 20 years.
DRUG & ALCOHOL
The Civic Institute has partnered with county and state level drug and alcohol offices and programs for multiple program evaluations and data gathering initiatives. Results of these efforts have given insight into how effective programs are, and ways that offerings can be bettered. Staff have also been involved with local drug and alcohol community collaboratives to address pressing issues at hand.
The Civic Institute engages in efforts that address the social determinants of health, conditions where people reside, work and play that impact health risks and outcomes.
HOUSING & HUMAN SERVICES
The Civic Institute has partnered with stakeholders in addressing the homeless population of Erie County. The Civic Institute oversees the annual Point in Time Count - the HUD-driven census of our homeless population. Staff have also directed and walked local homeless and housing stakeholders through a five-year strategic plan and engage committees to work on strategic action areas of focus. Additionally, the staff provide technical assistance to the local policy board and assist in program monitoring, written standards, grant reviews, community outreach, and other needs.
The Civic Institute addresses any areas that serve improving the well-being of our community. Though we have long-standing partnerships with many domains, our staff have been engaged in other areas such as educational systems, technology, independent programs, and others. The Civic Institute has also held special events, lectures and conferences to address topics of interest to our community.