Hometown Highlight: Advocates for Community Transformation
Advocates for Community Transformation (Act) in Dallas, Texas is dedicated to making neighborhood safety for their community its top priority. Act is a justice non-profit that was originally formed in 2009 by Reid Porter. Porter spent six years practicing law before starting Act. His experience in the legal field provided him the opportunity to learn foundational aspects of being a trial lawyer and as a result, his passion for serving those grew into something more.
According to Guy Delcambre, Act Chief Advancement Officer, the need to start Act became necessary as some areas of Dallas had been neglected by different groups for generations. Residents of those areas are afraid to socialize and build relationships with their neighbors, and they fear their children playing outside due to criminal activity in their neighborhood. That is where Act comes in and provides a community-based collaborative legal solution.
Act’s resident equipping and legal advocacy model brings neighbors together and provides education, resources, and volunteer lawyers from their partner-law firms. They strive to hold the criminals accountable for their illegal activity on the resident's properties.
“Since 2009, our clients and our volunteer attorneys have resolved 185 crime properties across West Dallas, South Dallas and South Oak Cliff,” Delcambre said. “Our legacy West Dallas neighborhoods experienced up to 50% reduction in crime.”
Act believes in building trusting relationships with families and educating them on their legal rights. The goal is to close high-crime properties in their neighborhood.
“Act aims for reconciliation and a non-adversarial resolution within a community, but if a case cannot be resolved through negotiation or settlement, we will take it to trial. Strong collaboration is essential both to Act’s model and to long-term sustainability of the neighborhood, and Act works closely with local neighborhood associations, churches, and nonprofits, as well as city stakeholders, including the Dallas Police Department, City Attorney’s office and Code Compliance,” Delcambre said.
They work closely with local neighborhood associations and partnerships with local churches. They also work with other local non-profits to help their client families receive support and resources outside of ACT.
The organization plans to expand from a local focus to a city-wide focus within the next 10 years. They plan to continue to build relationships with residents, identify properties and resolve high-crime activities in neighborhoods they target.
“Not only is Act intent on partnering with residents in high-crime, under-resourced parts of our city to remove the interference of crime and violence in their neighborhood but we are also motivated by a love that pushes us past our own comfort level at times,” Delcambre said.