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Governor Tom Wolf today announced $15.7 million in grant funding to support local strategies to stop gun and group violence across Pennsylvania. Grants were awarded to 40 projects through the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Grant Program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
“Gun violence is a scourge that cuts right to the heart of our communities. We must do more to prevent violence in our commonwealth and stop the trauma of violence from blighting our future,” said Gov. Wolf. “These grants will provide communities and local organizations with necessary resources to disrupt violence, promote healing and make our communities safer. This funding is an important next step in tackling the gun violence epidemic and reducing violence in our communities.”
Reducing gun violence in Pennsylvania is a top priority for Governor Wolf. In 2019, he signed an Executive Order creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and a Special Council on Gun Violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, as well as the Division of Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
One of the Special Council’s recommendations was to prioritize funding to support community-led efforts and address resource disparities. As a result, PCCD has prioritized support for organizations working at the neighborhood and community level to prevent and reduce violence. The VIP grants awarded today fund effective, community-designed and community-led strategies to reduce gun violence.
VIP grants provide funding to local organizations for a wide range of programs focused on reducing community violence, including street outreach and violence interruption programs utilizing credible messengers; Safe Corridors/Safe Passages programs, which prevent incidents to/from school and other community centers; providing referrals to partner agencies focused on meeting basic needs of participants, including education, employment, health and other services; comprehensive pre-release and reentry programs for returning citizens; trauma-informed approaches to support victims and survivors of gun violence; as well as youth activities and mentorship.
“With the initial awards of funding today, a significant step was taken to combat the rising violence plaguing many of our communities,” said Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair Vince Hughes D-Phila/Montgomery. “By making investments in a wide variety of neighborhood-based organizations the Commonwealth, for the first time, is making a significant investment of new state dollars available to combat the violence that has inundated many black and brown communities. This historic investment will serve as a down payment for many neighborhood groups that understand the fabric of their communities and can actively address the systematic causes of the violence epidemic affecting every county across the Commonwealth.”
“Every day we lose Pennsylvanians to gun violence, traumatizing our families and our communities,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware. “These violence prevention grants are an important tool for our communities to support and expand safety initiatives, to protect families and neighborhoods, and to begin to reverse the epidemic of gun violence and its negative outcomes.”
Gov. Wolf announced the $24 million VIP grant program in September. This is the first round of awards, with a second round expected to be announced in early 2022.
- 1Hood Media Academy – $350,000 for a new gun violence prevention campaign to train youth and young adults as media activists with the skills to conduct violence prevention campaigns in their own communities.
- Allegheny County – $1,496,000 to implement and expand the Cure Violence program in communities most impacted by gun violence.
- Carnegie Library of Homestead – $346,820 to support the Youth Development and Restorative Justice Program, where trained counselors and program coordinators mentor at-risk youth to develop conflict-resolution skills to reduce violent crime amongst teens in the community.
- Homewood Community Sports – $50,000 for community sports, mentoring and enrichment to deter youth from gun or group violence.
- Neighborhood Resilience Project – $500,000 to support and expand the Trauma Response Team, which cares for the acute needs of family and friends of homicide victims of gun violence.
- The Kingsley Association – $700,000 to support expansion of its Teen LEAD program – a year-long learning experience for at-risk teens ages 13-19 in East End communities of Pittsburgh to help them to apply life skills learning, build a positive self-image, recognize personal leadership characteristics, and gain part-time employment.
- The Salvation Army – Reading – $238,062 to support the implementation of trauma-informed group sessions where contracted behavioral health professionals will provide trauma-informed support to children and their families affected by gun violence.
- Freedom Neighborhood One – $25,000 for the Youth Ambassador Program, a 16-week program that equips students with the knowledge, skills and experience to become peer mediators.
- City of Harrisburg – $500,000 to continue execution of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy via a collaborative partnership between the Dauphin County Human Services Department, the City of Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Bureau of Police.
- H.I.S. Ministry – $50,000 to support additional developmental training to ex-offenders and men in the Harrisburg and Dauphin County area who have been convicted of violent crimes.
- Chester Biddy Basketball Association – $25,000 to provide social-emotional gun prevention workshops to youth participants.
- Panthers Community Foundation (Chester Panthers) – $50,000 to expand its current portfolio of sports activities and youth programming to include lectures, listening sessions and mentoring interventions to reduce gun and other criminal activity.
- Upper Darby Township – $308,122 to establish a new community policing center to serve the needs of the residents on the west side of the Township, including giving youth a place to go for homework help, group activities, referrals to resources for families and life skills classes.
- Erie County District Attorney’s Office – $1,642,743 support the UnifiedErie’s Group/Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, including holistic and coordinated efforts of law enforcement’s targeted intervention strategies, street outreach, and re-entry supports and intervention programming for high-risk offenders.
- Bench Mark Program – $143,968 to support the expansion of a wrap-around service model with the addition of a trained case manager who will specialize in supporting youth involved in gun violence and group violence.
- ACHIEVEability – $1,042,410 for the 60th Street Strong Coalition, to work with local, minority business owners on an anti-violence program to engage youth in paid apprenticeships.
- Antioch Christian Fellowship – $150,000 to expand the Level Up program, which offers programs to reduce gun violence and recidivism rates in the City of Philadelphia while providing a safe haven for young people and transforming them into future leaders.
- Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha, Inc. (APM)- $1,335,524 for a program to connect trained staff directly with individuals and families to promote positive family environments; enhance the foundations of a child’s academic, social and behavioral development; create protective community environments; and provide therapeutic treatments and interventions to lessen the harms of violence exposure and prevent its continuation.
- Community Solutions CDC – $332,500 to support umbrella activities for five organizations (Black Men Unifying Black Men, Helping Our Own Daily, Kay’s Special Experience, Victim’s Impact Services, Men of Courage) that will be trained in administering the Cure Violence Model of gun violence reduction.
- Eddie’s House – $150,000 to expand trauma-informed mentoring, community and family engagement to children/young adults and their families who have experienced trauma or are at risk of experiencing trauma.
- Hand2Paw – $150,000 to support the implementation of a violence prevention component to its Unleashing Opportunities paid youth internship program to increase recruitment, retention and training of youth most impacted by gun and community violence.
- I’m FREE – Females Reentering Empowering Each Other, Inc.- $49,991 to strengthen pre-release and reentry programs, interventions, services, and supports for women convicted of, or who are victims of firearm-related violence.
- Inner Strength Foundation – $250,000 to support trauma-sensitive and restorative healing practices through the Inner Strength mindfulness and self-care program.
- Jarrell Christopher Seay Love and Laughter Foundation – $50,000 to provide trauma-informed counseling services to men, boys and other family members grieving a loved one.
- Love Now Media – $50,000 to lead eight love storytelling programs in eight communities that have been significantly impacted by gun violence. Through these workshops, the organization will empower participants with an understanding of narrative ownership, the impact of storytelling, trauma-informed listening, and media literacy.
- Neighborhood United Against Drugs – $50,000 to implement a violence prevention risk reduction intervention designed to help changes the behaviors of young men at risk of committing violent acts against other persons. (Note: Urban Affairs Coalitions serving as fiscal sponsor for the project.)
- Philadelphia Community Empowerment Through Soccer (DBA Kensington Soccer Club) – $150,000 to expand the impact of its Teen Leadership Initiative to reach more teens and add a young adult cohort. The organization will work with teens and young adults to develop their leadership roles in the community, improve their outcomes both in and out of school, enhance their job readiness through soccer coaching and civic engagement, and counsel those who are most at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence.
- Power of Paint Art Academy – $150,000 to support a violence prevention and intervention program where trained staff will use art and therapeutic approaches, via outreach and referral services, to improve the quality of life for individuals who are victims and/or perpetrators of violence.
- Resolve Philly – $240,000 to support the growth of Equally Informed Survivors, a free bilingual SMS news and information text-line that serves the information needs of those directly impacted by gun violence by answering individualized questions, connecting them with available programs, services, and resources, and providing a link to local newsrooms.
- TechCORE2 – $50,000 to support the implementation of a community “Coding” program where skilled college tech majors and industry professionals will provide training, coaching and mentoring to K-12 and “Opportunity” youth at risk of perpetrating an incident of gun violence or being a victim due to lack of goals, directions, skills and/or safe environment.
- Union Housing Development Corporation – $ 149,943 to support the development and implementation of a “Safe Passages” program to provide safety support to the 15-block area surrounding Beckett Gardens.
- Uplift Center for Grieving Children – $250,000 support the expansion of programs that train caregivers in coping and resilience skills for themselves and their families; the extension of the Philly HopeLine, a free helpline offering on-demand mental health supports; and growth of community collaborations with complementary grassroots organizations.
- We Love Philly – $50,000 to help with the creation of three state-approved pre-apprenticeship programs at One Art Community Center.
- Why Not Prosper, Inc. – $250,000 to support the implementation of a two-part anti-violence program. For the first part of the program, trained outreach workers will connect directly with individuals at risk of perpetrating an incident of gun violence, who will then be offered an opportunity to participate in a pilot program with community partner organization Creative Mind Production to learn high-demand, professional photography skills in hands-on classes, creating viable, self-sustaining career opportunities.
- Center for Employment Opportunities – Allegheny, Dauphin, and Philadelphia Counties – $1,435,375 to support the implementation of Group Violence Intervention programming in its Pittsburgh office, and to enhance a supportive service network and trauma-informed care approach in its Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh offices.
- Coalition of African & Caribbean Immigrants – Philadelphia (AFRICOM) – Philadelphia and Delaware Counties – $50,000 to expand a youth/children project focused on engaging African and Caribbean Immigrant Communities against gun violence through soccer, youth leadership development and grassroots capacity building.
- Horizons Greater Philadelphia – Philadelphia and Delaware Counties – $381,000 to support the implementation of trauma-informed services for students and families.
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania – Chester and Montgomery Counties – $1,520,092 to increase access to evidence-based, trauma-informed behavioral health care for youth and young adults in Coatesville, Pottstown, Norristown and Reading. Mental health care providers will deliver mobile therapy via telehealth or in-person at sites in target communities.
- Youth Mentoring Partnership – Philadelphia and Chester Counties – $500,000 to support the maintenance, enhancement and expansion of its mentoring, safe haven and social-emotional learning programs for middle and high school youth 11-19 years of age.
- Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project – Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties – $495,498 to support the continued delivery of its holistic reentry advocacy and support for young people charged in the adult criminal justice system, and juvenile lifers.
More information about the VIP projects being awarded today, as well as PCCD’s efforts to address gun violence, can be found under the Gun Violence tab on the www.pccd.pa.gov website.
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