GRAND BOULEVARD — Five community organizations are in line for more than $14 million from the Cook County Gun and Violence Prevention Grant.
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Friends of the Children Chicago, Kids Above All, Roseland Ceasefire Project and St. Anthony Hospital will receive funding from the county over three years to bolster violence prevention initiatives in their communities, particularly supporting youths. Other grant recipients will be announced later this summer.
Funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, which calls for $65 million over the three years to back violence prevention. The program is managed by the county’s Justice Advisory Council.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said at a press conference Tuesday the funding “allows us to invest more funding than ever into these vital, evidence-based programs.”
The Justice Advisory Council began accepting applications in March. Executive Director Avik Das said participation in the first round of the application process was “unprecedented,” with 400 organizations represented in 190 applications requesting over $500 million.
“This volume highlights the breadth and scope of the organizations poised to advance gun violence prevention and reduction work,” Das said.
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council Executive Director Patrick Brosnan said the funding will help continue their efforts to bring school-based interventions and workforce development opportunities low-income residents and those affected by violence.
Friends of the Children Chicago is a 29-year-old organization based in Lawndale that pairs kids with a paid professional mentor from age 4 to high school graduation. More than 90 percent of participants go on to pursue secondary education, its leaders said.
Executive Director Taal Hasak-Lowy said the grant will allow them to expand their program to serve young people in Auburn Gresham, Englewood, West Englewood and Roseland.
“If you’ve ever talked to someone who’s engaged in gun violence, most often you’ll learn they were exposed to significant trauma as a child, and their parents or caregivers have significant struggles themselves,” Hasak-Lowy said. “Without sustained support to buffer that impact we cannot be surprised that the child exposed to trauma grows up to engage in violence. We hare a belief that if you provide a child with proper support they’ll stay on a positive trajectory.”
Kids Above All in Norwood Park has helped over 2,500 young people throughout the Chicagoland area — including Bronzeville’s Oakwood Shores, where they operate a center — employing a variety of program models to “meet unmet behavioral needs,” including counseling and a bereavement camp for youth who’ve lost loved ones to violence. The grant will allow the organization to expand its mentoring and mental health services, its leaders said.
Roseland Ceasefire Project has been implementing gun violence reduction strategies for 16 years, working with local agencies to help victims of intimate partner violence, and mentor youth, its leaders said. The organization is also a partner in the Chicago Public School’s Safe Passage Program.
Executive Director Bob Jackson said the group hopes to “expand their one on one and group engagement” to continue centering historically marginalized and underserved communities.
“It’s our goal to address this one block at a time to work with every family impacted by gun violence. We have reached out to kids as young as 7 to 72 years of age to work with them regarding trauma and with families on how to reduce the violence in the community. All of our work in the field doesn’t mean anything if a family isn’t accepting this program or understanding what we’re trying to do,” Jackson said.
Community engagement is also a key part of St. Anthony Hospital’s strategy, where intervention begins as soon as a gun violence victim enters the emergency room, its leaders said.
The Lawndale-based institution offers holistic care, access to targeted mental health services and individualized case management, said Dr. Janessa Shultz Brown, who serves as senior director of community development. Shultz Brown said the funding will support their work on the West and Southwest sides. The hospital received $923,000 in federal funding in March to relocate to the Focal Point Community Campus in the heart of Little Village.
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