The San Mateo Police Activities League (SMPAL) was formed in 1997 and became a 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization with a mission to provide a variety of supervised recreational, social and educational activities that successfully link police officers with San Mateo youth and the broader community. The program management is a joint collaboration between the San Mateo Police Department and the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department that focuses on the prevention of juvenile delinquency and crime by creating meaningful, positive experiences between police officers and youth. Hence, the tag line “Building the Bond Between Cops & Kids!” In May 2000, San Mateo PAL received a three year, $900,000 grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Planning (OCJP) to expand and enhance year-round after-school and weekend recreation programs and educational enrichment services. As a result, a number of new programs and services were implemented. Most activities are offered at no charge; however, a small number of activities may require a nominal fee. Scholarship opportunities are available to all participants.
The City of San Mateo provides in-kind use of facilities, equipment and other miscellaneous staff resources. Staff consists of a San Mateo Police Officer serving in the capacity of Executive Director, a Police Community Service Officer as the PAL Police Liaison, a San Mateo Parks and Recreation Community Service Coordinator, and several Parks and Recreation Program Specialists. San Mateo PAL has one full-time employee serving as the Fund Development Director.
The business of the San Mateo Police Activities League is monitored by a Board of Directors who meet monthly to review and advise PAL staff regarding the goals and direction of the organization. The Board is composed of Ex-Officio Officers, the San Mateo Chief of Police and the Director of San Mateo Parks and Recreation, as well as interested business and community members. The role of the Board is to provide general program and policy direction; to promote the purpose and value of PAL to the broader community; to develop and approve annual operating budgets; to establish and appoint members to specialized committees; and to solicit funds and engage in fundraising activities.
In July 2001, the Board of Directors voted to establish a Foundation Committee, now referred to as the Fund Development Committee, to serve as the designated fundraising and resource development arm of PAL. The Board recognized a specific resource development plan would be required to insure that the breadth and scope of activities provided as a result of the initial OCJP $900,000 grant was able to continue once the grant funding ceased. The Committee is charged with developing long-term fiscal stability strategies for the organization and actively creating connections with individuals, corporations, businesses and foundations that are sources for the establishment of long-term operating capital and endowment income. In 2014, San Mateo PAL hired its first full-time employee, a Fund Development Director. The Fund Development Director is responsible for writing grants, fundraising and sponsor solicitation, and donor stewardship. This Director reports directly to the Committee and the Board.
Since its inception, San Mateo PAL has been a safe place for thousands of San Mateo youth. Our goal is to keep kids on track, in school and out of jail! *Statistics show that peak hours for juvenile related crime occurs between 3pm to 6pm weekdays. 15.1 million kids in the United States are left alone during the week between this time frame. A survey shows kids aged 12-17 years old left alone three or more days a week are twice as likely to join gangs, get involved in drugs, and/or commit a crime. Self-care is also associated with more accidents and injuries, behavior issues, and low academic achievement. Including our youth in the numerous programs PAL offers every year allows them to surround themselves with positive influences, while enriching their lives through experiences they may not obtain otherwise. Kids involved in PAL are given the opportunity to develop create thinking and problem solving skills, as well as improve their communication and self-direction skills.
In 2017, San Mateo Police Activities League celebrates our 20th Anniversary of “Building the Bond Between Cops & Kids!” We’ve grown so much over the years, and in addition to our standard programming which includes one-time, series, and sports classes, we’ve been able to introduce Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T). Taught by School Resource Officers (police officers) to every 6th Grader in the three San Mateo public middle schools, G.R.E.A.T. is a 13-week program addressing gangs, bullying, communication, empathy, and peer pressure. In collaboration with the San Mateo Police Department Juvenile Detective, we also created a Juvenile Diversion Program. Diversion is an attempt to redirect low-level first time youth offenders, or those displaying the signs, prior to entry into the Juvenile Justice System.