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The statistics, and more dramatically, the stories of the thousands of people who have transformed their lives through Delancey Street demonstrate the depth and range of the unprecedented success we have had in a field fraught with failure. We have developed a model that works. While we are, of course, proud of our activities and achievements, particularly because all have been accomplished by our residents themselves, we believe that because of these successes, we have a larger responsibility to see that our mission extends beyond reclaiming the individual lives we have served to date into teaching the model to people in other states and nations who are experiencing the same horrific problems. When our country has acknowledged a program proven to work, that is extremely cost-effective, and does not require numbers of professionals and specialists, we should not allow that program to remain unique. Instead, the Delancey process should become a significant part of our nation’s network of solutions to social problems. Therefore, we have expanded the activities of our recently developed division, Delancey CIRCLE: Coalition to Implement Revitalized Communities, Lives, Education and Economies. The Delancey CIRCLE is our effort to respond to the growing crisis of the most intractable social problems occurring in the world today: poverty and growing underclass populations, crime, substance abuse, homelessness, child abuse, violence, and the attendant hopelessness that pervades the people who live with these problems. As a result of some visibility given our model in the past, we have received over 10,000 requests to teach or model to others.

For our 25th anniversary we invited a select group of friends to celebrate Delancey’s quarter of a century of struggles and successes, and simultaneously expand Delancey CIRCLE. Our National Board of Governors consists of:

  • Former Secretary of State George Shultz
  • Co-founder of the Farm Workers Union Dolores Huerta
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • (Former CEO Gap, Inc.) Current J Crew CEO Mickey Drexler
  • Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weizel
  • Federal Judge Thelton Henderson
  • Former Parade Magazine Publisher Walter Anderson
  • Former Bank of America CEO Richard Rosenberg

We are working hard to develop a way to expand our vision without losing our core. We have all watched businesses and non-profits alike make the mistake of growing too big or too fast and losing their mission, franchising and losing their control, or resisting growth, stagnating, and dying. Our plan is to move slowly and to partner with public or private agencies throughout the nation and world to use the Delancey experience to educate public policy makers, provide programming that can affect public policy, and to teach others to utilize adapt or replicate our model in numerous ways.

After some years of careful experimentation, working through a training institute that we developed, the Institute for Social Renewal, we believe that we have paved a way to preserve the core of Delancey Street and also to network and form coalitions with other organizations to expand the impact of the Delancey Street model.

Click here to learn about the Institute for Social Renewal.

Our attempt to expand the impact of our model divides into two general areas: 1. Public Policy Programming, and 2. Adapting / Replicating the Delancey Street Model.

1. Public Policy Programming

Silbert speaking with youth from YMCA program.

We have worked in two key areas: 1. prisoner re-entry / parole both with our state system and with the federal system, and 2. juvenile justice. In the federal system prisoner parole and re-entry area, we worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the National Institute of Corrections, and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Services to form a coalition to study and develop new programming for Mariel Cubans detained in federal prisons and jails throughout the country. We utilized Delancey residents to travel to federal facilities and interview all the Mariel Cubans in custody. Delancey evaluation recommended restructuring the detention and the parole process. Following the evaluation, Delancey worked with the three government agencies to actually develop for Mariel Cubans a new parole process, develop a standard level of programming in institutions, develop a new classification system and train personnel. Further, working with community groups, we developed halfway houses and long term residential community based programming. At the state level for prisoner re-entry and parole, we developed a program for the California Department of Corrections entitled Bay Area Services Network (BASN). Silbert researched and made recommendations to the California Department of Corrections regarding improved delivery of services to the parole population in 6 Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Marin. Based on study findings, the Department of Corrections engaged Delancey residents in forming a coalition with San Quentin Prison staff, parole agents and community based organizations in the 6 counties. Over the 3 year period of developing BASN (now an ongoing component of the Department of Corrections) Delancey residents worked to remove technical parole violators from San Quentin and place them into services in the community. They interviewed inmates at San Quentin, became their case managers upon release, and developed new programs in the community to meet their needs, working hand in hand with parole agents.

The second public policy focus was on juvenile justice. We conducted a 5 year revamp of San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice System in a coalition with the State Board of Corrections, the San Francisco Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council, and with all public and private community agencies and organizations working with youth in San Francisco. We wrote a detailed master action plan for the county and implemented 6 new programs. A thorough pre-post study with control groups was done by independent evaluators who called the model “phenomenally successful” and gave our Juvenile Justice Action Plan significant credit for San Francisco’s declining juvenile crime rate occurring during the course of the project (San Francisco had the largest decline of any city in the country, second only to Detroit).

Delancey Street resident Aubria Thompson with students from National University of Singapore studying model social enterprises.

2. Adapting / Replicating the Model
To date we have adapted our model in 6 different ways. The first is through our Institute for Social Renewal. With help from the Annenberg Foundation, Hearst Foundation, and Koret Foundation, we have trained people from over 450 cities in 50 states and 25 countries. Trainees have ranged from people working with the homeless in cities across America, through drug and alcohol programs internationally, through economic development for American non-profits as well as international groups fighting poverty and hunger. The second is a replication of Delancey Street we began in 1993 adapting our model to the San Mateo County jail, with a program called Choices. While it is an in-custody program, we’ve been able to keep alive the basic Delancey Street principles in Choices. Started by Delancey’s Teri Lynch Delane with the help of Delancey Street graduates, staff shares with Choices participants how they managed to make changes in their lives employing the “each one teach one” principle of Delancey Street. Over 190 inmates are involved in Choices at any one time. Program participants are held to the same behavior standards as Delancey Street: no drugs or alcohol, no threat of violence, and no violence. As at Delancey Street, inmates are also involved in community service projects designing greeting cards, t-shirts, dolls, and quilts to send to shelters, schools, and others in need. Choices has been evaluated by County Health Department evaluators who found that inmates that graduated from the program were three times less likely to be arrested, convicted or incarcerated, after being released from jail.

The third replication process was an attempt to adapt the model to another country and Delancey selected Singapore. A Delancey team visited Singapore first to keynote an address for the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) with the goal of working with self help organizations, welfare, religious, and civic organizations, and government departments to utilize the Delancey Street approach in their halfway houses. Delancey visited all the programs offered by Singapore and worked hand in hand with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) to develop a replication of the Delancey model. Following this, a group was selected from Singapore to come to Delancey Street, and they spent 2 weeks in our San Francisco headquarters in 1997. Training was extensive and geared to enable them to take back the Delancey model to replicate it as closely as possible through both government and faith-based groups operating programming in Singapore. This same process is on-going between Delancey Street and a charitable organization in the United Kingdom, Tomorrow's People, who are establishing a residential program for ex-offenders, and in South Africa with staff at Pretoria Portland Cement Company, Ltd., who are supporting programs for all ages of street kids. Our fourth adaptation of our model is Life Learning Academy (LLA), a charter public high school for juvenile justice youth, started in 1998.

Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Delancey Street during his trip to the United States in 2006.
Pictured from left to right are: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Mimi Silbert, Delancey Street resident Frank Schweickert, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Delancey Street residents Abe Irizarry and James Dorne. Blair spoke to all the residents during his visit and told them, "I've seen something, something that's got a lesson in it for all countries, including mine. All of us need to change our lives from time to time."

LLA is located on Treasure Island, a former Navy base, that sits in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Students, under the guidance of Delancey Street Construction Department, renovated the school facility, expanding it from an 8,000 square foot building to 25,000 square feet. LLA has a proven record of success in re-engaging students who have left the system and teaching them how to be contributors to a positive community. A 3 year independent longitudinal study found LLA to be a “profoundly effective program”. The fifth approach to adapting our model is the Delancey Eisenhower Replications. The United States Senate set aside funding through the Department of Justice to the Eisenhower Foundation in Washington D.C. One of the key missions of the Eisenhower Foundation is to replicate “programs that work”. In this replication process, from 2002 through 2006, Delancey Street worked in partnership with the Eisenhower Foundation to replicate our model in 4 states: Alaska, Hawaii, Texas and South Carolina. This partnership has replicated the Delancey model in Alaska by adding new programs to a large community-based umbrella organization that provided social services to local native populations, but did not serve the criminal justice population in a residential setting, particularly those with substance abuse and other compounding problems; in Texas by working with a faith-based organization to expand the work they were doing with families of people in prison to develop a residential program for women based on Delancey; and in South Carolina by creating a completely new program not in concert with any other group or organization. By selecting these different approaches in diverse parts of the country, we hope to see which aspects of the Delancey model are adaptable and whether replications need to fully and completely utilize the Delancey model or whether parts of it can be adapted in different ways. Our sixth approach includes an exchange program and informal replications of Delancey Street. Over the years, numerous Delancey Street graduates have run and/or worked in other programs. Because they changed their own lives at Delancey Street, it is the model they knew intuitively without needing training; not formally calling themselves replications, graduates have modeled their work and programs after Delancey Street. Some have utilized the same training schools such as moving and Christmas trees. Some have adapted the educational model to drug programs. In San Francisco alone a graduate started Asian Recovery Services, and graduates direct and work in programs ranging from San Francisco Diversion for first offenders through therapeutic community drug programs within prisons. There are informal replications in North Carolina, California and Florida. Finally, it was a very exciting time when we met the members of the San Patrignano community in Italy and discovered the wonderful activities they were involved in that were so like our Delancey Street model. Of course, San Patrignano instantly became our sister program. We wanted to find ways to do things together, and one of the best was an exchange program we set up between our two locations. In our visits there, and in the visits that San Patrignano community members have had at Delancey, we have shared ideas and worked together to try to help solve the problems the world is facing with drugs and crime.

Diller teens visit Delancey Street in 2011

Delancey CIRCLE has worked effectively with coalitions to try to address the most serious social problems. As with Delancey Street itself, Delancey CIRCLE is facing many struggles, and has had some successes. Our hope is to continue trying in various ways to make partnerships and coalitions to show that the most problematic of America’s underclass can turn their lives around, create communities of hope and change, become productive decent citizens, and help move society forward.

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"This School Teaches Hope" (Parade, 10/00)
"Second Chance for Young Thugs" (San Francisco Chronicle, 04/00)
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"Rehab with a touch of class" (The Stockton Record, 06/95)
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