Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs

Brief Description

Canada has one of the largest Somali populations in the Western world and nearly 20,000 members of the Somali community live in the Edmonton area. Children of immigrant and refugee families face a drastic life change when they arrive in Canada. For example, many have never attended school. In order to address the growing issues faced by transitioning Somali youth, the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton established a program to assist Canadian Somali youth.

The Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs project was a family and community-based program incorporating literacy learning, holistic family learning, parenting skills and family communication to enable parents to develop better skills and opportunities for their children. The children and youth (the primary audience) engaged in a variety of activities including homework club, soccer, basketball, skating and skiing, youth leadership training, reach ahead summer day camp and out of town summer camps.


The main goals of the Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs project are to:

  • Improve youth and children’s social skills;
  • Prevent crime, delinquency, and violent victimization;
  • Improve youth self-confidence and academic achievement;
  • Increase school attendance; and
  • Increase family and community involvement with children.


The appropriate clientele for this project are Edmonton Somali-Canadian children and youth between the ages of 6 and 25, with the secondary target being the families of these children and youth, and third target being the Somali community as a whole. Programs are developed to address issues underlying Somali youth’s transition into the Canadian culture and schools.

Core Components

The main components of the Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs include the following:

  • Mentoring;
  • College awareness and preparation;
  • Courses and enrichment in the Canadian culture and the arts;
  • Volunteering and community service opportunities;
  • Supervised recreation and athletic programs/events;
  • Youth leadership activities; and
  • Tutoring and supplementing instruction in basic skills, such as reading, math, and science.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization should provide culturally relevant and appropriate programming and integrating fun activities with learning opportunities.
  • Partnerships: Partnership with the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Public School Board, Catholic Social Services, Mennonite Centre, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs project was implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) from 2010 to 2013. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs project.  The findings from the study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio is 10.65:1. This indicates that for every dollar invested in the program, there is a return of between $2.64 and $18.25 of social value created by the program with an average of $10.65; and
  • Social value was created through a reduction in health care costs associated with obesity and hospital stays; school admin costs through reduction in dropouts; police resources through reduction in crime and vandalism; and less social services through reduction in juvenile delinquency and runaways.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Keeping Somali Youth Out of Street Gangs and Drugs. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: 

For more information on this program, contact:

Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton
Abukar Nur
Telephone: (780)441-9878

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-23
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: