The Shriver Center‚Äôs Choice Program has given a whole new meaning to the phrase ‚Äúa public university‚Äù by drawing on the resources of higher education to develop creative solutions to urgent social challenges. Mark Shriver, son of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the program in 1987. In 1989 Choice became a not-for-profit organization of the Shriver Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
The Choice Program is a community-based, family-centered case management approach to delinquency prevention and youth development. Focusing on providing support in at-risk environments, Choice empowers youth and engages families through a multitude of services adapted to individual needs. The program seeks to foster resiliency in young people by promoting protective factors to mitigate risk in their daily lives.
What began as a model program in Maryland also proved to be effective throughout the country. The Choice Program model has been successfully replicated in Hartford, Connecticut in 1997, San Diego, California in 1998, and Syracuse, New York in 2003. Evaluations of these programs demonstrate a similar impact to the results in Maryland: reduction in delinquent behavior and reducing out-of-home placements. Choice is recognized locally and nationally as a cost-effective, outcomes-based program.