ASU, Phoenix Police team up to help victims of prostitution

April 26, 2012

ASU's School of Social Work last week teamed with Phoenix Police Department and community social services agencies and volunteers for Project ROSE II, a concentrated arrest-alternative/intervention program for adult victims of prostitution or sex trafficking.

Viewing them as victims rather than as criminals, Project ROSE (Reaching Out to the Sexually Exploited) provided hope and assistance to 76 adult prostitutes who have a variety of legal, mental health, addiction and homelessness issues that traps them in a sex-trade life. Download Full Image

“Project ROSE is an example of using non-traditional and innovative means to address a very traditional issue, one where the focus has typically been on criminalizing a vastly underserved population instead of seeking to understand their victimization, their needs or their inherent dignity,” said Phoenix Police Lt. Jim Gallagher, who helped to develop and lead Project ROSE II.

The operation was conducted in two, 12-hour shifts on April 19 and April 20. A command post hosted by Pastor Brad Pellish was established at Bethany Bible Church in Phoenix.

The victims received options for safe housing, crisis mental health counseling, medical services, options for detox and drug treatment, food, clothes and their initial interview for the Diversion Program provided by Catholic Charities, and most significantly, the opportunity to change their life. Upon completion of the Diversion Program, which can be a six-month commitment, charges will not be filed on the originating case and the individual can begin to move forward with their life and reclaim their dignity.

Participating organizations were the Phoenix Police Department Vice Enforcement Unit and Phoenix police precincts, as well as the city of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office, ASU School of Social Work, Catholic Charities DIGNITY Programs, Community Bridges, Empact La Frontera, Healthcare for the Homeless, ALERT, Bethany Bible Church, and Streetlight USA.

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, a social work associate professor at ASU, was instrumental in starting Project ROSE in early 2011, working with Phoenix Police and the various community partners to establish this unique program.

“This event is an example of the unique community we have in Phoenix with the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office and the Phoenix Police Department recognizing that the issue of sex trafficking and prostitution are more complex than just a criminal behavior," Roe-Sepowitz said. "Project ROSE was designed by a group of innovative collaborators and at ASU we are conducting the research to follow the participants to evaluate the arrest-alternative approach compared to traditional police and court responses to prostitution arrests.”

The initial Project ROSE in September 2011 had extraordinary success, Roe-Sepowitz said. Nearly 30 percent of the 43 women participants had completed the diversion program and had not been re-arrested in the past seven months.
“The cornerstone of Project ROSE is the City of Phoenix Diversion Program, which we have evaluated and published on and found to have strong impact on a participant’s re-arrest – reduction – if they complete the Diversion program. Thus, we are using evidence and research to support requiring the clients we contact through Project ROSE to complete the Diversion program,” she said.
The goal is to provide “essential human needs” of the individual, treating the victim with an understanding that they are a person in crisis, Roe-Sepowitz said. For example, one victim with significant substance-abuse issues agreed to go to detox and Catholic Charities DIGNITY, a prostitution-focused residential program, only after volunteers found someone (an ASU student) to adopt her 18-year-old cat – the main concern of this woman who had little else in this world.
With 116 volunteers, 76 victims were served at Project ROSE with 73 eligible for the Diversion Program. They were between the ages of 19 and 55, with 71 women, four transgender individuals and one male.
Overall, 29 victims received health care services from Healthcare for the Homeless, 26 saw EMPACT for mental health services, 23 saw Community Bridges with seven entering crisis detox, 10 into safe housing and 73 completed intakes at Catholic Charities Dignity Diversion.

Doctoral students mentor young scientists in after-school program

April 26, 2012

STEM after-school program expands to all Kyrene middle schools

Designing a model of an artificial heart comes naturally to sixth-grader Emma Baier. Download Full Image

“I come from a long line of surgeons, including my grandfather,” she says. “I’ve always found the science of the human body fascinating. I’ve learned components of the heart that I didn’t even know existed.”

Emma is one of 250 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the Kyrene School District who participated this semester in hands-on experiments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The program was part of a three-year K-12 education project, funded by Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and facilitated by Arizona State University’s Graduate College. Classes were taught by ASU doctoral students in partnership with Kyrene teachers as part of the ASU Citizen Scientist-Engineer @ Kyrene after-school program.

Classes explored such diverse topics as microbiology and genetics, bacteria and immune systems, electricity and energy, photosynthesis and nutrients, and earth’s geological processes. Then students used their newfound knowledge to create artificial heart models, imagine how alien life forms would exist in different environments, design water filtration devices and use hydrogen fuel cells to power toy cars.

In three years, the program has expanded from 78 students at one school to 250 students in all six Kyrene middle schools. The after-school classes have become wildly popular with both students and their families.

“This is the kind of learning that we dream about,” says David K. Schauer, superintendent of the Kyrene School District. “The kids are so excited about what they are doing – they go home and talk about their learning, they share the experience with their parents. This after-school program is really how all our school days should look.”

“This program demonstrates one of the many ways in which ASU strengthens its communities,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “We are motivating the next generation of innovators by collaborating with middle school students and their teachers. We are enhancing learning opportunities for our K-12 students by engaging our science and engineering doctoral students in creating innovative ways to enhance interest in the STEM fields.”

Bringing the excitement of discovery to the classroom is one of Science Foundation Arizona’s goals, as well as preparing tomorrow’s workforce with the technical and analytical skills for 21st century jobs. Doctoral students who are funded by SFAz as Graduate Research Fellows learn to be citizen scientist-engineers who can effectively communicate their science and engineering knowledge and research to K-12 students, their families and their communities.

“We created the Graduate Research Fellows program with the idea of attracting the best students in the country to Arizona,” says William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona. “These GRFs are every bit as good as students that are going to MIT, CalTech or Stanford. We wanted them to be involved not just in research, but also to give something back to the community and be involved in K-12 education. We’re very proud of them.”

Graduate Partners for Science Education (GPSE), founded and run by graduate students in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, taught Energy Meets Biology classes as part of the project. “In all of our experiments we stressed the importance of energy in biological systems,” says Brett Seymoure, GPSE co-president. “Whether it was energy acquisition or a behavioral mechanism aimed at maximizing energetic benefits, the underlying theme was energy.”

Kyrene students studied the rate of photosynthesis under different wavelengths of light, tested for macronutrients in certain foods, and conducted a predation experiment using scorpions, crickets and black widow spiders.

The semester culminated in a poster presentation in which 750 family and community members viewed the results of experiments and projects. Guest speakers included Craig Barrett, retired CEO of Intel and SFAz board vice chair; William Harris, SFAz president and CEO; David K. Schauer, superintendent of the Kyrene School District; Ev Michell, principal of Kyrene Centennial School; and School Board President Michelle Hirsch.

Kyrene district schools that participated this year are Akimel A-al Middle School, Altadena Middle School, Aprende Middle School, Centennial Middle School, Kyrene del Pueblo Middle School, and Kyrene Middle School.

The ASU Citizen Scientist Engineer @ Kyrene program is directed by ASU principal investigators Andrew Webber, professor of molecular and cellular biosciences in the School of Life Sciences and associate vice provost of graduate support programs in the Graduate College, and Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh, assistant professor of engineering education in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, within the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The program is funded by Science Foundation Arizona, and supported by ASU Light Works, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the School of Life Sciences.

Participating this year were: (Kyrene teachers) Kimberly Cobb, Kathy Couey, Tara Dale, Jeff Garrett, Terri  Golembewski, Jon Hutman, Terry Lastovicka, Melissa Melville, Myriah Monson, Carl Nasuta, Marty Starling; (SFAz Graduate Research Fellows) Bridget Cavanagh, Andrew Darling, Denzil Frost, Brian Johnson, Daniel Rosenbalm, Jordan Yaron; (GPSE doctoral fellows from School of Life Sciences) Stephanie Bittner, Tara Crawford, Scott Davies, Sisi Gao, Nicolas Lessios, Russell Ligion, Jeremiah Molinaro, Travis Rusch, Jesse Senko, Brett Seymoure, David Schwake, Patricia Trubl, Melinda Weaver; and (Volunteer ASU doctoral student) Christina Foster.

Editor Associate, University Provost