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Keep America Beautiful, Inc. Recognizes Four Cities For Exceptional Graffiti Prevention Programs

Submitted by: Keep America Beautiful

Categories: Environment

Posted: Nov 15, 2004 – 11:00 PM EST


Nov. 15 /CSRwire/ - STAMFORD, CT - Keep America Beautiful, Inc. announces the results of its first annual Graffiti Hurts(R) National Award competition. Innovative graffiti prevention programs in four cities are the winners: First Response Team in Burlington, VT and Operation Clean Sweep in New Orleans, LA (first place overall winners); the Baltimore Police Department in Maryland ("mural" category winner); and Operation Brightside, Inc. Kansas City, KS (Honorable Mention).

"This Graffiti Hurts(R) awards program honors the best and most innovative collaborations to combat graffiti," said G. Raymond Empson, president of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. "Across the country we're seeing creative and proactive ways to achieve lasting community improvement. These Graffiti Hurts(R) winners are taking responsibility for their environment and Keep America Beautiful is proud to recognize their achievements."

Graffiti Hurts(R) was developed in 1996 through a partnership between Keep America Beautiful, the nation's largest nonprofit education and community improvement organization, and The Sherwin-Williams Company (NYSE: SHW), maker of Krylon paint. Graffiti Hurts(R) provides community resources and promotes best practices for graffiti prevention.

The competition drew over 60 entries from 26 states representing the best of local governments, police departments, nonprofit volunteer organizations and other groups dedicated to eradicating graffiti vandalism. Winning programs receive a cash award, a plaque, and local and national recognition. The four program winners also will present their program best practices at Keep America Beautiful's 51st annual national conference, during a special conference session on December 1st in Washington, DC.

Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges, who included Michelle Gregory, The Sherwin-Williams Company; Rosemary DeMenno the National Crime Prevention Council; Mike Zaleski, Hartford Proud and Beautiful; Deborah Lamm Weisel, North Carolina State University, and author of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Service publication, "Graffiti"; and Conni Kunzler, Consultant to Graffiti Hurts(R).

"The Graffiti Hurts(R) program demonstrates that effective public-private partnerships have a positive impact and make a difference in communities," said Christopher M. Connor, chairman and CEO of The Sherwin-Williams Company. "It enhances community awareness about the complex nature of graffiti and what can be done at a local level in terms of prevention, removal and education. Sherwin-Williams is committed to strengthening communities and protecting our environment through programs like Graffiti Hurts(R)."

About Keep America Beautiful, Inc. and Graffiti Hurts(R)
Keep America Beautiful, Inc. is a national nonprofit public education and community improvement organization whose network of nearly 1,000 affiliate and participating organizations engages individuals in programs that prevent litter and reduce, reuse, recycle and properly manage waste materials. Through partnerships and strategic alliances with citizens, businesses and government, Keep America Beautiful's programs motivate millions of volunteers annually to clean up, beautify and improve their neighborhoods, creating safer and more livable community environments.

To learn more about Keep America Beautiful, or its National Conference Graffiti Prevention session, visit www.kab.org. For more information about Graffiti Hurts(R) and its resources to help communities prevent graffiti, visit www.graffitihurts.org or contact graffitihurts@kab.org.

About the Graffit Hurts Award Winners

First Response Team in Burlington, VT
Since its launch in December 2001, First Response Team has repaired graffiti vandalism in over 900 locations, racked up over 1,700 volunteer hours, painted seven murals in high-graffiti areas, and in a local survey found that 92% of respondents reported a decrease in graffiti in their neighborhood. With an operating budget of $37,000, the program includes removal within 72 hours, weekly volunteer cleanups, volunteer training, youth service learning, adopt a block, mural and other restorative activities, and community service opportunities for prosecuted graffiti vandals.

Operation Clean Sweep in New Orleans, LA
Through a grassroots effort and a shoe-string budget of just under $30,000 a year, Operation Clean Sweep has painted out over 10,000 tags and reduced graffiti 65% overall in the City of New Orleans, and 85% in the French Quarter. Building on broad local media support, and working with over 40 neighborhood associations, youth groups, churches, schools, and the New Orleans Police Department, Operation Clean Sweep has initiated a program that is reducing crime and bringing a better quality of life to the City.

Baltimore Police Department in Maryland
The Baltimore Police Department and Access Art, a local youth art center, teamed up on the "Mural Project," a creative outlet for Baltimore City youth that discourages tagging in favor of public displays of positive community images. The premise is that to change attitudes and behaviors, young people must participate in their neighborhoods. Following 50 hours of professional art instruction and education to promote civic responsibility, the youth conceived and created a 25 x 75 foot mural showing residents in different stages of community involvement. Youth who would otherwise be involved in graffiti vandalism became advocates for cleaning up the neighborhood and acting as role models for other youth. In 2003, Baltimore City painted over 500,000 square feet of graffiti at a cost of $350,000.

Operation Brightside, Inc. Kansas City, KS
In 2003, to respond to an increase in graffiti, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS built a coalition of public and private organizations to assess the graffiti problem and design a solution. This Graffiti Task Force targeted ordinance changes, expanded public and youth education, and coordinated a new abatement effort. After one year, a total of 644 graffiti cleanup projects were completed, 96% of calls to the graffiti hotline have been resolved, and the new code enforcement process is providing victims with free assistance.

For more information, please contact:

Monica Surfaro Spigelman Keep America Beautiful
Phone: 1+203-323-8987, x 81
Larry Kaufman Keep America Beautiful
Phone: 1+203-323-8987, x 81

For more from this organization:

Keep America Beautiful


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