Areas of Practice

Innovative Consultants International, Inc. (ICI, Inc.) is both a research & evaluation (R&E) corporation and a services provision company. Its staff and consultants represent a highly-competent, think-tank of strongly-skilled professionals dedicated to high-quality services, products and research. A differentiator is that our teams strongly uphold community self-sufficiency as they implement systemic efficacy and improvement among government, private enterprise, schools, public service agencies and community grassroots organizations.

As part of our core competencies we provide services in education, race and ethnic relations, labor and workforce development, management and diversity, mental health and substance abuse (ATOD), basic R&D, safety and law enforcement, training and technical assistance and computer technology.   

EDUCATIONEducational practice encompasses a greater diversity of sub-professions than most other fields of practice. While difficult to briefly summarize, our experience spans a broad spectrum in the educational arena, from research & evaluation to curriculum development, accountability, testing, leadership development, TA, professional development and direct service provision.
HISPANICS / LATINOSConsiderable controversy and misinformation abounds around key topics affecting the Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S. and abroad. Ever present contradictions include those surrounding immigrant and migrant communities nationwide. Whichever beliefs prevail, the U.S. is undergoing a major demographic shift which inevitably forces cultural shifts that must be understood and resolved if the U.S. is going to well survive the 21st century.
LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENTTechnology, educational innovation and demographic shifts are causing deep cultural changes among businesses across the country. Leadership in the changing world of work demands leveraging the talents of all workers, leaving no worker behind.
MANAGEMENT & DIVERSITYIn the world of diversity, it is less important to count heads, regardless of race or color, and more importantly to make heads count. Managing this diverse workforce will exert challenges upon the work sector that will require new leadership skills, broader knowledge and greater cultural competence than ever before if the U.S. is going to remain at the cutting edge of industrial leadership and development.
MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE ABUSE This topic has become ripe for cooptation and misguidance from both provider agencies and practitioners in positions of power and control. The term “consumer empowerment” has been maligned since the closing of mental health institutions during the transitional decade of the ‘90s. Concomitantly, the appearance of HIV/AIDS has brought new significance to substance abuse services, albeit poorly understood and still lacking adequate services. 
RESEARCH AND EVALUATION Programs continue to need evidence of effect for their activities, both short- and long-term. Notwithstanding, major challenges facing evaluation research and policy formulation is the development of assessment that focuses on learning and adaptation rather than testing hypotheses about goals and accomplishments that may be statistically significant, but not so critically important.
SAFETY & LAW ENFORCEMENTCommunity safety forces resolution of the irony about which comes first, the officer or the lay citizen, legal jurisprudence or community safety. Winning strategies for law enforcement must balance the broken-windows approach with policing the community. Standards of practice have become blurred by the standards of enforcement and political correctness. Ironies remain to be resolved between gun laws and policing before full restoration of public safety is accomplished.
TRAINING & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCEThe sharing of what works in any profession through effective practices is critical to the provision of TTA. Major gaps remain between what we know from research and what is truly implemented. Most programs fail at the stage of implementation, not theory. In educational practice, as but one example, it has become difficult to ensure good pedagogy, assuming good curricula and adequate testing.
INFORMATION & COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGYIn today’s world, ICT is imperative for nearly every facet and task of an organization. Integration of ICT capabilities among educational institutions, for example, plays a critical role as they enhance data-supported decisions. Also among schools, addressing the cognitive needs of students with different learning styles is possible through the multimedia capabilities of ICT systems as well as in the delivery of educational content for everyone, anywhere and anytime.



EDUCATION

Educational practice encompasses a greater diversity of sub-professions than most other fields of practice.  While difficult to briefly summarize, our experience spans a broad spectrum of the educational arena, from evaluation to curriculum development, accountability, program delivery, among others.  ICI, Inc. began as an educational R&E corporation and has developed expertise over time in many ancillary areas of education (see expertise tab).  The following are brief descriptors in only four of these areas and not meant to be comprehensive of the educational services we currently provide.
Educational R&D applies field-based knowledge about how schooling practices, policies and programs impact student learning.  To a great extent, the field focuses on student achievement from results gathered from achievement tests.  Beyond ensuring the accuracy, reliability, and validity of achievement tests, considerably more information is needed about other factors that also contribute to student achievement and its assessment.  Such findings garner far-reaching outcomes in education. 

ICI, Inc. can help to:

  • Survey attitudes toward education and about student achievement
  • Explore alternative routes for community-based endeavors
  • Conduct onsite investigations of schools and alternative educational programs
  • Examine adequacy of current tools, instruments and approaches in the measurement of educational progress
  • Review programs in educational reform that focus on low-achieving, disenfranchised, non-traditional, minority populations
  • Provide cultural competence workshops that enhance teacher performance in the classroom and among peers
  • Identify best practices that fit the learning needs of students

R&D is about knowing what works in education and why.  Though much progress in student achievement was made in the decade of the 1970s and 1980s, many educators believe that stagnation has occurred over the past decades, now lingering in the tweens years.  For example, the gap among students from different racial/ethnic groups and/or low- and high-income populations has barely narrowed during this period.   Credible feedback on “what works” and “why” is critical for teachers and key decision-makers.

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Review and advise about program that have proven and significant contributions to student learning
  • Conduct site reviews and provide oversight of educational programs
  • Interpret data about racial/ethnic groups and gap reduction, among other issues impacting student performance
  • Conduct research on critical issues facing community-based endeavors and alternative educational initiatives and effective practices
  • Conduct educational evaluation of local schools or community-based educational efforts
  • Write state-of-the-art or white papers on what’s working in education

English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) and Teaching-English-to-Speakers -of-Other Languages (TESOL) represents a considerably different approach to that of two-way or dual-language instruction.  Each has validity in different settings.  The former operates from a dominant English-only environment, while the latter is more likely to build English knowledge (L1) from a former language (L2) construct or domain.  As a result, approaches to pedagogy and classroom practices for English language learners (ELLs) will vary considerably, as will the results. 

ICI, Inc. has experience both in the implementation of ESL and dual-language education as well as expertise in the evaluation and measurement of such programs.  Also, it can recommend helpful assessment tools that adequately diagnoses language literacy and helps in the placement of ELL students.

As a result, ICI, Inc. can help with:

  • ESL and dual-language education program implementation
  • Decisions regarding sound pedagogy for ELLs in traditional and non-traditional settings
  • Adapting extant tools, protocols and instruments that can help measure program accomplishments
  • Provide overall evaluation of program results and documentation of educational standards and district goals

Positive Youth Development, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education is bandied about in a rather loose manner across the country and in our schools, but seldom given high importance.  If our youth do not have the proper foundation for character education, knowledge for the sake of learning will not suffice.  Intellect without character is incomplete.  We subscribe to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who once declared, “Intelligence and character—that is the goal of true education.” 

We should never underestimate the importance of youth and leadership development in our schools and our communities.  President Theodore Roosevelt once stated that, in the long-run, character is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and that of a nation.  This highly misunderstood area deserves very special attention.    

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Evaluate this need at your school or organization
  • Evaluate character education and positive youth development (PYD) programs
  • Assist in the development of character education and PYD programs for your school or organization
  • Promote understanding about the importance and need for character education
  • To be highly knowledgeable about the SOA of these programs
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HISPANICS / LATINOS

Hispanic Immigration
There is much national debate around immigration.  The U.S. is far more divided on this topic than current debate might suggest.  Deep contradictions remain.  While the country needs a stronger and larger workforce, it may not be willing to provide needed policies to facilitate the entry of foreign workers.  The majority of Americans want a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants, but Washington cannot easily translate this wish into sound legislation.

The issue of immigration and what to do about it has exploded as one of the most difficult controversies to resolve.  Many of the current efforts miss the point.

ICI, Inc. can help: 

  • Refocus the issues in terms of separating myth from reality from a national and local perspective
  • Provide workshops to better understand and demystify the issues behind this social controversy
  • Work with community leaders in bridging the gap of misinformation and help policy formulation
  • Work with key interest groups to partner with organizations and leaders who represent important decision-makers in the local and national Hispanic community that now represents over 80 percent of all illegal immigrants to this country

Hispanic/Latino Demographics
The United States now represents the second largest Hispanic/Latino population of any nation in the world—second only to Mexico.  Hispanics also represent the fastest growing group in the U.S. census—both in terms of U.S. immigration as well as net reproduction rates (NRR).  According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics accounted for half of the U.S. population growth between 2013 and 2014.  This means that the Hispanic population (which includes all races) represents a rate of growth that is three times greater than the total U.S. population and more than four times the growth for whites, currently under one percent.

Hispanics also represent the youngest median age among all racial/ethnic groups in the Nation—over 10 years younger than the U.S. median age.  The latest numbers put the Hispanic population in the U.S. at about 55 million, excluding the nearly 4 million U.S. citizens that live in Puerto Rico.  Currently, one-in-four children under the age of five is Hispanic, while one-in-five adolescents are Hispanic and one-in-six U.S. residents are Latino.  

While this bodes well for the U.S. growth in upcoming years, it also connotes significant cultural change for the country.  The “browning” of America is now a reality that is literally changing the face of the Nation.  This also means that current growth projections will produce a majority-minority country by mid-century, with a considerably larger Spanish-speaking population.  A demographic shift of this magnitude inevitably conveys a concomitant cultural shift.  All citizens must ultimately climb aboard the same ship.  For the future of America to be economically viable and competitive, current rates of Latino disaffection and disengagement must radically improve.

ICI Inc. can help:

  • Provide meaningful perspective to the cultural changes taking place, nationwide.
  • Bring understanding to the meaning of demographic shifts, especially among programs that aim       to strengthen Hispanic/Latino communities
  • Provide workshops on the meaning of cross-cultural enterprises and international relations with

Latino nations in Latin America and beyond 

  • Provide understanding through technical assistance and workshop sessions about Latinismo

understanding the Latino culture in America

  • Promote better outreach among professionals, especially the helping professions, e.g., message

development, viable social action and general service delivery

  • Schools become more aware on how to reach Latino populations and prevent the disproportionate

rate of Latino dropouts

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LABOR AND MANAGEMENT

Workforce Development
The demographic shifts facing America are causing cultural changes that challenge the way the U.S. conducts business and the extent to which it outsources jobs overseas.  Leadership in the changing world of work demands leveraging the talents of all workers and leaving no worker behind.  A rapid advancement in technology together with a growing global market and an increasingly diverse workforce exerts changes upon the work sector and requires new skills and cultural competencies.

Employers in large and small, public and private organizations are in search of workforce members that are eager to increase their cultural competence and create a work environment that attracts talent from all groups, while also striving to make the workplace a more productive environment.  These are essential ingredients for the survival of this Nation’s welfare and long-term productivity.

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Assess your organization’s productivity
  • Create viable programs that can harness the potential of workers from non-traditional populations, especially those that have limited educational background or represent English-language learners (ELLs)
  • Promote the exchange of information across geographic boundaries and cultural sectors
  • Develop a plan of action for your organization to acquire the cultural competencies needed to perform more effectively in a changing, diverse and cross-cultural environment, including worker-exchange programs
  • Explore how back-to-school programs can be linked to a more productive worker in the organization
  • Develop and promote EPIC (Empowered, Productive, Inclusive and Collaborative) work environments and intermediary organizations
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MANAGEMENT AND DIVERSITY

Diversity & Cultural Competence
Diversity and cultural competence are often confused with affirmative action and EEO.  “Diversity is not about counting heads, but about making heads count” (Noboa, 1995).  At the workplace, cultural competence is more about collective gain and an inclusive workpace than the mere accumulation of individual cultural competencies.  Therefore, a culturally competent staff, by itself, cannot guarantee cultural competence in an organization.

As demographic shifts across the country denote the “Browning of America,” leaders and managers are still learning about the management of diversity in the workplace.  As society becomes increasingly multicultural, management must learn to develop the untapped potential of multi-racial/multi-ethnic teams. 

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Provide a framework that both guides this development and measures the progress towards cultural competence
  • Guide the process of conducting cultural audits in the workplace
  • Help benchmark performance data that show how the management of diversity goals directly impacts organizational results

Organizational Cultural Competence
The concept of cultural competence at the organizational level goes much beyond slogans, speeches, mission statements, cultural celebrations or good intentions.  The process requires that many other factors work in tandem to create organizational buy-in and awareness.  Diversity aims toward the bottom line as it promotes unity in the midst of cultural differences and oppositional behavior.

In general, organizations have done a good job in talking about diversity, but fare poorly at implementing viable standards, policies and practices that promote organizational equity.  ICI, Inc. has created an organizational assessment tool for diagnosing cultural competence in the workplace as well as forecasting likely outcomes.    

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Develop diagnostic tools relevant to the cultural competence of an organization 
  • Introduce strategies that promote cultural competence within the mission of the organization
  • Enhance knowledge about diversity as a force that strengthens organizational structure and promote worker satisfaction
  • Demonstrate how cultural competence can work for profit and overall business advantage

Organizational Development
The extent to which an organization can both meet its core objectives while also advancing worker capacity defines success for the organization.  As the business community confronts an ever-changing market and as community organizations face demographic shifts, the traditional organization has been in a period of flux, change and anxiety.  As past rules may not necessarily apply, new ways of addressing old problems must be sought.

To survive, organizations must rapidly adapt to changing environments.  This requires flexibility in organizational structure and a departure from past performance.  Altogether, organizations not only must work with a changing workforce (demographic diversity), but also adjust their view of tasks and approaches (cognitive diversity), be organized differently (structural diversity), and become competitive in an ever-growing marketplace (global diversity).

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Restructure the organization so as to meet the challenge of a diverse workplace in a changing

environment

  • Construct new paradigms by which the organization can accomplish new goals and objectives
  • Redefine the work of the organization to better meet mission
  • Evaluate organizational priorities and overall effectiveness as well as reassess/redefine goals and objectives
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MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBTANCE ABUSE (ATOD)

Consumer Empowerment
The term represents an exciting opportunity to an important group of mental health consumers.  It also implies that many conditions need change and re-alignment in the mental health sector.  By its very nature, the concept also threatens the status quo.  As a result, the topic has become an area ripe for co-optation and misguidance from both provider institutions and practitioners in positions of power and control.  Is the concept of “consumer empowerment” misdirected or is the field poorly informed?

Some believe that the advantage of empowerment is that it is a two-way, win/win process.  Both parties can become free of the responsibility and bondage of dependence.  Freedom by one mandates freedom for the other.

This perspective calls for a new and different role for both therapist and client as well as between provider agency and community.  Both need liberation from the bondage of dependency, albeit the former possibly for fiscal reasons and the latter for survival.  This concept is epitomized by Brazilian educator Paolo Freire (1969) when he argued that the dominated person can so deeply internalize the model of both the oppressor and the oppressed that only considerable consciousness-raising can counteract passive acceptance of this condition.

Greater freedom for consumers to both own and act on their well-being denotes a bold step for the mental health system to also admit it needs considerable healing and improvement.  Through this process, everyone gains.

As the concept of consumer empowerment has become popularized over the course of the psychiatric consumer movement during the past two decades, it has also been diluted and distorted by many providers.  Such conditions have worked against consumer survival and independence.  The concept continues to be highly misunderstood and under-applied.  ICI, Inc. has been exploring and evaluating these issues during the past decade.

As a result, ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Your organization explore what it can do to advance the cause of consumer involvement in mental health programs, practices and policies.
  • Utilize a tested framework by which to measure level of consumer involvement and tailor consumer needs for your community
  • Design easy-to-implement, consumer-based, needs-assessment processes
  • Co-construct research methods that ICI, Inc. has utilized in documenting consumer services and better gauge adequacy of mental health programs
  • Provide workshops on how to increase consumer decision-making and client empowerment 

Mental Health
The issue of mental health is one that continues to create much debate between practitioner and client.  Also, insurance carriers are not so apt to cover expenses for this category of ailment.  The consumer empowerment movement, has pushed the field of mental health to address known imbalances within the system of care and the relationship between doctor/professional and the consumer (recipient of services).  Key national organizations have also helped lead this movement.  Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a strong advocate and provides a voice for the mentally ill; also, the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH) has been helping children with mental health needs and their families achieve a better quality of life.   

Thirty years ago, as the exodus of patients from state mental hospital accelerated, mental health professions developed a new approach to helping the mentally ill cope with life on the outside.  Today, certain popular methods are receiving systematic attention from researchers.  One of the forms of intensive case management is called assertive community treatment (ACT).  Centers of recovery that are consumer-driven are also effectively responding to the mental health needs of persons displaced by mental health institutions and illustrating to many providers how they should be sensitive to the needs of the mentally ill. 

At the community level, in the move toward local systems of care communities (SOCCs) government sponsorship has assisted greatly.  The aim has been for Federal funds to be used together with matching funds in an effort to create alternative systems of care that are community-based, family-driven, and culturally competent.  These programs advocate for family involvement in local decision-making and greater consumer voice, while also trying to ensure more flexibility in the burdensome and bureaucratic systems in place—often at the state, county and city levels.   

In this area, ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Provide workshops and assist community coalitions that can work toward the creation of alternative systems of care that also promote culturally-competent and family-driven services
  • Explore alternative systems for mental health services that truly focus on consumer needs
  • Promote culturally-competent services among providers utilizing the organizational mental health framework created by ICI, Inc.
  • Evaluate the extent to which local consumer services are family-driven, client-focused, and community-based

Substance Abuse and Drug-Demand Reduction
By the end of the 20th century, societal costs of drug abuse in the U.S. had peaked to more than $144 billion.  This was calculated from productivity losses, particularly rated to incarceration, crime, drug-abuse related illness, and premature deaths.  This cost increases at the rate of 6% yearly. 

An important point is that no one is immune from the consequences of drug use.  Every family is vulnerable.  However, communities where illegal drug markets flourish are more greatly plagued by attendant crime and violence.  Also, persons who lack comprehensive health plans and have smaller incomes are also less likely to afford treatment programs to overcome drug dependence.

Nearly 13 million Americans (about 6 percent of the household population aged 12 and older) have used illegal drugs on a regular basis (past 30 days).  This number of “past-month” drug use represents a decline by almost 50% from the 1979 high of 25 million—a decrease that represents a favorable change in behavior.  Despite this drop, more than a third of all Americans 12 and older (2012) have tried an illicit drug.  Among high school students, nearly 1 out of 2 use illicit drugs.  Fortunately, nearly 60 million Americans who used illicit drugs during youth have later rejected these substances as adults.

Alarming trends also exist for tobacco and alcohol among youth.  For example, binge drinking is on the increase and three thousand children begin smoking cigarettes each day.  As a result, a third of these youngsters will have their lives shortened.  Also, early drug use often leads to other forms of unhealthy, unproductive behavior and is associated with premature sexual activity.    

Several current trends are of concern.  Illegal drugs continue to be readily available almost everywhere in the U.S.  If measured solely in terms of price and purity, cocaine, heroin and marijuana are more readily available than a decade ago when the number of users was higher.  Another unsettling finding is among adults that have become resigned to teen drug use.  A recent study by CASA suggests that nearly half the parents from the “baby-boomer” generation expect their teenager to try illegal drugs.  These data do not portend well for the future.

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Assess educational programs and/or community-based efforts that implement drug education and increase resiliency skills among youth
  • Promote curricula that have been successful in increasing knowledge about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) and changing attitudes and behaviors regarding ATOD
  • Review drug demand-reduction activities that have been successful in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Latin America through anti-drug community coalitions such as those promoted by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
  • Evaluate programs and their efficacy toward change in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (KAB) toward drug use
  • Develop measurement tools that are culturally competent and capture KAB gains in the area of ATOD prevention
  • Examine programs that deal with treatment of drug use either at residential centers for detoxification or through other means of direct intervention    
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RESEARCH & EVALUATION

Program Evaluation
Management continually needs evidence of the effect of programs and activities—short- and long-term.  Organizations need to know what they are doing well and in what areas they can improve.  Managers want to learn what areas of services are more effective than others and in what ways.  From the fiscal side, contractors want to know how they can achieve the same results for less money.  From the viewpoint of evaluators, the real challenge for evaluation research and policy analysis is to develop methods of assessment that emphasize learning and adaptation rather than the mere expression of summary judgments about accomplishments.

Regardless of context, it is important for program managers to understand what works, under what circumstance, and with what results.  Critical assessments of formal and informal policies, practices, behaviors, and unwritten rules in an organization that might be working against the mission, compromising productivity, diluting services, or pushing away best talent is indispensable for the organization to know if it is to prosper and flourish. 

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Determine when evaluation is necessary and for what purposes as well as document the role of program evaluation toward program improvement and expansion
  • Decide what types of program evaluations (e.g., process or outcome) can help improve the program
  • Develop external program evaluations that can be conducted by staff
  • Promote participatory and empowerment evaluation for community-based programs
  • Determine, among the many types of evaluation, what methods are best to assess selected programs 

Research and Evaluation
Research and evaluation serves a rather critical function for an organization.  Research must be designed in such a way that it serves the information needs of the organization, while also being aware of the needs and interests of key persons in the environment whose actions affect what happens during and after the study.

Hiring a firm to conduct an evaluation provides an organization with a wider choice than it would have if it were limited to its own resources.  With this aim, an external team represents a wider range of skills, talents, and experiences that are often lacking among organizational staff.  Outside firms also bring greater objectivity from teams that have little, if any, vested interest in program outcomes.

At the international sector, onsite evaluations can help determine how American companies conduct business overseas (e.g., in Spanish-speaking countries, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim).  Research is needed to measure norms and practices regarding language usage, fairness, compensation and cultural nuances that are crucial to maintain a competitive edge at home and abroad—within a global economy.  

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Organizations understand how they can use research and evaluation to a competitive advantage 
  • Determine how research and evaluation can be helpful toward general organizational goals, subsistence and the bottom line
  • Decide when research is best for the organization and for what purposes
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SAFETY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Policing and Law Enforcement
There are winning strategies for law enforcement officers to become outstanding members of a law enforcement agency.  These are important to understand and reinforce.  In training, two of the most critical areas for police officers revolve around:  1) making the job easier and 2) developing strategies that can save their life.   In police work, one of the hallmarks is that much depends on quick response and the immediate creation of community safety.  An irony is that while much depends on an immediate response, it is also important for the officer to shift from a reactive process (e.g., quick resolution of an emergency) to a proactive one, where skill centers on early identification of a problem and the anticipation of levels of risk.  While this is difficult to determine in a split second, certain strategies can be quite helpful and life saving. 

The policeman, though always in harms way, plays a vital role in community safety.   Here, the role of the officer may vary between strict law enforcement and peacekeeping.  At times, the roles can be in conflict.  Neither should be at the expense of the other.  Instead, it is critically important to determine what role the officer should play and under what conditions, while also maintaining vigilance and not abandoning duty.

Given recent situations such as that of Ferguson, MO (2014), it is critical that a series of policies and practices together with culturally sensitive ways of approaching situations be structured into practice.  While we often know what do to, we do not always put into practice what we know.  At other times, when not knowing what to do, we do what we know.  Neither of these are sufficient standards of practice for what ails American society in the 21st century.

The emotional survival for law enforcement officers is another area highly deserving of critical attention.  High stress can lead to change in the life of the officer and his or her immediate family.  As divorce rates rank among the highest of any occupational group, police suicides are also more than four times the felony death rate among officers.  Over time, the job of an officer can transform from a job to an identity.  It can represent the central and defining aspect of an officer’s life.  This is high risk. 

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Work with law enforcement agencies to create safer, healthier and less virulent communities through effective, community-focused and culturally-sensitive police work
  • Develop training workshops to create outstanding members of law enforcement agencies 
  • Provide understanding of cultural competence to better understand differences between black and blue
  • Unravel the nuances to the emotional balance that is so critical to the life of an officer and his/her immediate support, family and peers alike

Prisoner Reentry
The number of persons leaving prisons across the country is unparalleled in U.S. history.  With the overcrowding at prisons and jails and the enforcement of new national standards, over 600,000 individuals are being released from state and Federal prisons yearly—a fourfold increase over the past two decades—with another 10 million that will be released from local jails.  In most African American and Latino communities, there are more persons in prison, jail, or on parole than the total number of persons enrolled in higher education from these respective communities.

Given the increase in numbers, issues around how people fare after they exit prison walls has received renewed attention.  Many prisoners are reentering their communities less prepared than ever.  Many low-income and inner-city communities—least able to attend to reentry needs—receive disproportionate numbers of returning prisoners.  Meanwhile, ex-offenders will face difficulty managing the most basic necessities—employment, housing, family reintegration, and access to health care and substance abuse services.  Worse, nearly two-thirds will be rearrested within three years, many returning to prison for new crimes or parole violations. 

The cycle of incarceration and reentry carries the potential for adverse consequences for prisoners and their families.  As the potential costs are great, so too are the opportunities for interventions that can enhance the public safety and cohesion among communities at the center of this cycle.  This has ignited a growing level of activity among policymakers, researchers and practitioners.  While some efforts are changing the reentry landscape and working to overcome the complex challenges of prisoner reentry, other players have little clue about where to begin. 

In this effort, ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Increase knowledge about programs that have been successful with  among offender populations, especially among Hispanic and African American populations
  • Evaluate the efficacy of intensive case management, such as the assertive community treatment (ACT) model in your organization
  • Explore the need for a youth offender reentry program (YORP) in your community
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TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE (TA)

Centers for Technical Assistance
The provision of technical assistance is all too often neglected in most professions across the country. An area of great need is the sharing of effective practices and knowing what works in any profession.  Most learning takes place in school. Seldom is learning shared outside of the sacred halls of an educational institution.  It is important for this to shift and for shelters of learning to be expanded. It is important to create centers of excellence and places where adults can freely learn from one another.  The process of a TA center is that where safe places of learning and effective practices are shared and where knowledge is expanded in a learning community, where everyone is a learner and where all participants are also teachers. 

Establishing communities of practice is an excellent way to disseminate what works in any profession.  In the field of education, for example, it is a way of sharing knowledge among equals as it is also a way to disseminate this knowledge-base to practitioners in a way that enhances professional practice.  In our work with Paulo Freire among schools that professed “liberatory” education, empowerment meant that learning was liberating, as the opportunity to learn was also akin to the freedom to learn.  In such a setting, it was expected for everyone to share insights and expand knowledge.  It was not that information was power, but that its utilization brought about power for the learner who, in turn, could harness this potential for the common good.  Learning was not the pouring of information into an empty vessel of mind, but the process of transforming knowledge into practice.

In short, technical assistance is the process by which professional development is expanded among practitioners of a given art or vocation.  It is a process that enhances the learning experience without judgment and doing such in a collaborative and respective manner through those that have learned the art well and where everyone benefits from the experience.

ICI, Inc.’s experience has been to create these opportunities through communities of practice in safe learning environments where mutual respect is ensured.  Such TA practices in the field of education, the field of work/labor relations and the field of management and leadership development, as elsewhere delineated.

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Assess an organization’s need for technical assistance
  • Create viable processes where critical information can be gained from highly respected practitioners in a safe environment, where grading and competition are not the aim
  • Establish centers where communities of practice are created and supported long term 
  • Ensure communities of learners seriously seek to enhance their skills
  • Promote the expansion of learning through the technology of learning (how practice is learned) as well as through appropriate utilization of available learning technology, with the latter as a tool to enhance practice, not the other way around
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Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)

ICT’s as enablers in education
Information and communications technologies (ICT) currently influence every aspect of human life.  They are playing salient roles in entertainment, education, work places and business enterprises. Moreover, many people recognize ICTs as catalysts for change such as change in working conditions, handling and information utilization; teaching methods; learning approaches; scientific research; even accessing information.  Therefore, organizations must consider the role of ICTs as well as the promises, limitations and key challenges of integration, especially in instructional systems.  It is critical for organizations to assess their current ICT systems status to answer the following questions:  (1) What are the benefits of ICTs in the organization?  (2) What are existing promises of ICT usage in the process of education and for your work conditions?  (3) What are the limitations and key challenges of ICTs integration to your education system?  Regardless of limitations characterizing it, ICT benefits educational systems and learner outcomes by supporting the delivery of quality education in alignment with learner needs, supporting data-driven instructional decision-making, constructivism, differentiated learning and professional development.

ICI, Inc. can help:

  • Asses the status of your institution’s ICT systems and advise on best practices in support of your development plans;
  • Provide quality ICT-based education systems in alignment with constructivism, which is a contemporary paradigm of learning.
  • Provide access to a variety of ICT-based learning bilingual resources;
  • Identify or develop ICT-based educational systems to deliver anytime, e.g., anywhere learning and collaborative learning;
  • Develop educational Apps for a multitude of platforms;
  • Design and implement professional development programs in support of ICTs systems deployment;
  • Support the design and implementation of multimedia approaches to education, including classroom design and professional development; and
  • Providing data security and user-validation systems.