"The community plans how it will spend the money. It will teach residents how to manage their own community. They've decided on which risk factors they want to concentrate on, the areas they feel they can do something about," she said.
Shawn Blackburn, one of the original members of the committee, is anxious for the program to procede. "It's nice that the money is finally here," said Blackburn, 35, of North Sixth Street.
The program is based on 30 years of research into the factors that put young people at risk and the protective factors that buffer them, Burrows said. It's designed to bring the whole community together in a web of support much like an extended family, she said.
A national effort, the program is being established in cities and counties across Pennsylvania to help poor communities deal with problems such as violence, substance abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy and school drop-outs.
The Chambersburg program, which is scheduled to be running by May 1, targets more than 5,000 residents in the downtown areas that send students to the King Street and Thaddeus Stevens elementary schools, Burrows said. More than 67 percent of the students at Stevens and 84 percent at King Street Elementary are below the poverty level.
Two public housing projects and most of the borough's low-rent housing stock are in the area, she said. Most residents are black or Hispanic.
Former Gov. Robert Casey brought the program to the state. It's been adopted as a special project by Michelle Ridge, wife of Gov. Tom Ridge, Burrows said.
The Franklin County Commissioners and the county's judges backed it early on and appointed Burrows to set it up.
As many as 75 residents became involved in the early planning. Some of them are on a search committee reviewing more than 40 applications for the five staff positions that will run the program.
There will be a manager, outreach worker, volunteer coordinator and two-part-time secretaries. Office space will be provided by the Chambersburg Community Improvement Association and Building Our Pride in Chambersburg, Burrows said.