2019 All-America City Finalist – Pasco, WA

Application Summary for the All-America City Awards:

At 75,000 residents, Pasco is a fast-growing and increasingly diverse community that emphasizes outreach and inclusiveness.

The city council involves residents in their annual priorities process and adopted an “Inclusivity Resolution” in early 2018. The city and school district use a variety of social media and televised outreach mechanisms to reach residents, with many provided bilingually. As a way to improve representation on the city council, the city recently won a battle with the state that created council districts, rather than all members being elected at-large.

Three project examples showing how this community leverages civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues:


1.) Hot Spotters Program

In recent years people with mental illness have had an increasing number of encounters with law enforcement, including two officer-involved shootings. With steady increases in the population with mental illnesses, and particularly those who are homeless, the availability of services is not able to keep up with demand.

To avoid future conflicts and provide more appropriate treatment of people with mental illness, Pasco’s police department created a collaboration called Hot Spotters, in which the city works with nonprofit agencies, courts, families and other stakeholders to identify high-risk individuals and create plans for each that offer services and prepare law enforcement to handle contacts appropriately.

Anyone can suggest an individual as a Hot Spotters participant via the Consistent Care website.  This confidential form has been advertised and allows family, friends, fire, law enforcement, or medical personnel to submit names for evaluation.  Of the first 25 people identified for the program, police contacts during a two-year period resulted in an arrest rate of 18%.

The Hot Spotters program has also included the use of mental health professionals in patrols with police officers so that care and services can happen immediately. In addition, the program is working to create housing opportunities for chronically mentally ill residents in need.


2.) New Horizons High School

New Horizons is an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)/Trauma informed school. Many of the New Horizons 270+ students have encountered life events that make the traditional high school model challenging. Staff is intentional about how it can remove barriers for students, including childcare, food, and health education.

The Graduation Reality and Dual-Roles Skills (GRAD) Program provides students, with children ranging from four-weeks to kindergarten, access to childcare provided by trained staff. The childcare program promotes consistency and peace of mind for students concerning the safety and health of their children.  Additionally, students in the Pasco School District boundaries can access a school bus with car seats installed to help with transportation.

The school added to these services the Phoenix Food Pantry which offers food and supplies to students. The items are provided from individuals and organizations throughout the community, such as local churches and schools.  Second Harvest, whose mission is fighting hunger and feeding hope, also began contributing to the food pantry and greatly increased the amount of food provided to students. Tri-Cities Diaper Bank is also a partner of the food bank and provides diapers to needy families.

New Horizons is now co-located on the campus of Columbia Basin College, providing the ability to integrate high school students into the college setting.  The schools have found that the need for food and other supplies follows students from high school to college and have partnered to help these students continue to get necessary supplies.


3.) Tri-Cities Community Health’s “Let’s Prevent Diabetes/ Prevengamos las Diabetes”

In 2016, data from the Centers for Disease Control indicated that Latinos in Franklin County, in which Pasco is the biggest city, have twice the rate of diabetes as non-Latino residents. This spurred Tri-Cities Community Health (TCCH) to adopt a goal of reducing this disparity. TCCH was able to obtain grant funding to build a large medical clinic and two school-based clinics.

TCCH later worked with the National Alliance for Hispanic Health to obtain a grant for screenings, marketing, and counseling, enrolling 139 Spanish-speaking individuals in the first year, with a goal of serving at least 500-600 people during the five-year grant period. Individuals, who must be pre-diabetic when they enroll, participate in fitness classes with personal coaches, adopt weight-loss goals, and take part in healthy food cooking classes.

In partnership with the Tri-Cities Diabetes Coalition, TCCH helps conduct marketing campaigns and other outreach to educate residents about diabetes and healthy behaviors. The group works with doctors’ offices, hospitals, grocery stores, city agencies, and other institutions to reach people throughout the region.

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