Program snapshot

Age group: Early childhood (0-6); Late childhood (7-11); Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous

Topic: Academic issues; Aggressive/violent behaviours; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Property crime; Situational crime prevention

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting; Recreational/sport-based setting

Location: Manitoba

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention; Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

Lighthouses program is a youth crime-prevention program supported by Manitoba Justice. It is an initiative of Neighbourhoods Alive (NA!)!Footnote1 NA! is a long-term, community-based, social and economic development strategy that supports and encourages community-driven revitalization efforts in designated neighbourhoods across Manitoba.

Prevention research indicates that structured programs that provide youth opportunities to learn new skills in a safe and positive setting can help reduce high-risk behavior and improve peer interactions.  Inclusion of the “4 S’s” is highly recommended in the development of effective programming for youth.

  • “Structured” Programming – Programming for youth is most successful when it is structured and predictable. Drop-in, unstructured programming is less effective.
  • Effective “Supervision” – A visible adult presence is key to ensuring the success of youth in programming. Youth are more likely to attend programming if they perceive it to be safe, have staff they like and respect, and have access to fun activities.
  • “Skill-Building” Activities – Children and youth are more likely to attend afterschool programs if they are learning new and fun skills that they can apply to other areas of their lives.
  • “Staff” – Well-trained and confident staff are imperative to the success of youth programming.


The main goals of the Lighthouses Program are to:

  • Increase youth self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence through participation;
  • Involve youth meaningfully in all stages of decision-making in the development and running of their Lighthouse program;
  • Provide youth with a safe, healthy and positive environment;
  • Reduce the incidence of youth crime in participating communities;
  • Engage "at-risk" youth in positive activities;
  • Expose youth to positive role-models;
  • Increase youth citizenship (i.e. take more responsibility for their communities, reducing vandalism, removing graffiti, being more aware of community needs, etc.); and
  • Develop and enhance interagency collaboration and cooperation.

Lighthouses can have tremendous benefits for participants. Children and youth who participate in organized activities outside of school tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with friends and perform better in school.

Lighthouses offer positive environments and operate in many communities throughout Manitoba. Activities normally take place at least once a week.


The appropriate clientele for the Lighthouses program is children and youth ages 6 – 25.

The specific characteristic of the clientele as well as the crime issues addressed by the program varies by implementation site and specific need of the community. Youth help shape what will take place at each location site. Examples of youth led project ideas can be in the following domain: anti-vandalism and clean space projects; promoting family and friendship values; anti-violence movie night; drinking and driving counter attack, building community relationships, etc.

Core Components

The Lighthouses Program is designed to provide safe, effective, prosocial activities delivered by well-trained staff outside of school hours. Each Lighthouse is unique, and is developed to meet the specific needs of the community within which it is located.

Sites are strongly encouraged to incorporate all of the “4 S’s” when designing their Lighthouse Program.

Lighthouses uses community facilities like schools and recreation centres for activities identified and organized by local children, youth and community members.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The Lighthouses program requires an incorporated host agency to administer funds and ensure the reporting requirements of the program are met. Furthermore, there must be a Steering Committee for the program comprised of a community member, Lighthouses coordinator, two community youth (preferably mixed genders), and a member from the host agency. The purpose of the Steering Committee is to provide oversight and support to the coordinator and assist in the program design and development.
  • Partnerships: Key partnerships for the Lighthouses program are Manitoba Justice, community elders/local leadership, community service providers/agencies, education authority/school divisions, RCMP/law enforcement, and local food banks (to provide meals/snacks).
  • Training and technical assistance: The training and technical assistance recommended for the implementation and sustenance of the Lighthouses program are: the participation in a bi-annual crime prevention conference, on-going training and support from Lighthouses manager, and cross-program collaboration and mentoring.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: The materials needed for the Lighthouses program are the Lighthouses program binder with all necessary templates and the Lighthouses logo, which can be used for program branding.

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

Based on the information consulted on the Manitoba Justice website – Lighthouses Location,Footnote2 Manitoba supports 71 Lighthouse sites throughout the province - 38 in Winnipeg and 33 outside of Winnipeg. Several of the Winnipeg Lighthouses sites operate in cooperation with the City of Winnipeg Community Development and Recreation Services "Youth Action Centres". 

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

In 2003, Manitoba Justice funded 20 community based sites that offer a Lighthouse crime prevention program for youth at-risk of delinquent activity. The report outlined the results of a formative evaluation of all Lighthouse programs. The evaluation used a participatory process whereby goals and objectives were designed not only according to funding guidelines, but also with the input of a Research Steering committee that involved local site supervisors and youth.

Guiding principles for programming included: community involvement, service to at-risk youth, input from local communities and youth for program design, liaison across agencies, positive relations between area youth and police, and youth connection and responsibility to the local community.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Lighthouses programs offered a considerable amount of positive services to Manitoba at-risk youth. 
  • Programs achieved most of the core objectives, and meaningfully involved youth in their planning process. Youth, Steering Committee members and parents all commented enthusiastically on the activities, atmosphere, and staff at Lighthouses sites. Given that a maximum of $12,000 per year per site was available (sometimes combined with other funding) programs provide substantial cost benefits. 
  • The two improvements suggested most consistently by participants, Committee members and parents were extending program hours and providing more activities. There were a small number of concerns at some sites over control and mixing of different age groups. 
  • Sites did well at providing recreational and social activities for youth. More programming directed at youth citizenship and prosocial activities was noted as desirable.
  • Programs were successful in involving youth and Steering Committee members in planning. It is recommended that this collaborative approach continue to be emphasized.
  • Law enforcement personnel were generally not very involved in Lighthouses programs, as Steering Committee members or otherwise. It was recommended to collaborate with police service officials to identify ways that will increase meaningful involvement of law enforcement.  
  • The data indicated that some sites service a much higher proportion of at-risk youth. To maximize benefits, it was recommended that future funding be targeted at higher needs communities.

For more information, refer to Kaplan and Associates (2003) publication.

Lighthouses Programs had an important and significant impact on the youth featured in this report. By extension, the changes experienced by these youth also had a positive impact on their families. The program provided youth with an opportunity to participate in positive and constructive activities, within a safe and secure environment. The programs also helped these youth to break away from previous negative peer influences. Instead, it brought them together with new friends, who reportedly had more positive and constructive interests.

Based on the comments provided by the youth and parents in this study, and with the corroboration of program staff, the Lighthouses Program appears to have achieved the following objectives for these youth:

  • The Lighthouses Program facilitated youth crime prevention;
  • It provided these youth with positive environments;
  • It facilitated their personal development;
  • It facilitated positive alternatives for their leisure-time activities;
  • It provided them with positive role models; and
  • It facilitated increased citizenship.
  • These findings were consistent with those reflected throughout the original formative evaluation of the Lighthouses Program.

For more information, refer to Kaplan and Associates (2006) Publication.

Cost Information

Each site receives $12,000 in annual funding.


Kaplan and Associates (2003). Formative Evaluation of Lighthouse programs.

Kaplan and Associates (2006). Manitoba Justice MAKING A DIFFERENCE First-Person Accounts of the Impact of The Lighthouses Program.  

For more information on this program, contact:

Laurie E.D. Monk
Lighthouses Manager
Manitoba Justice – Crime Prevention
Telephone: (204)945-0973

Todd Clarke
Executive Director
Manitoba Justice, Community Safety Division
Crime Prevention Branch
Telephone: (204)945-6884

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-27
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
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