Big grants for small groups working to reduce violence in Philly

The skyline is reflected in the Schuylkill River as the sun rises over Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

The skyline is reflected in the Schuylkill River as the sun rises over Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Working on a solution to gun violence and want to share it? Get in touch with gun violence prevention reporters Sammy Caiola and Sam Searles.

More than $100 million from Pennsylvania’s portion of federal recovery act money will be shared between small groups in Philadelphia working to reduce violence.

The funding will help community groups who are dealing with violence prevention on the neighborhood level.

“A wise investment in organizations that have proven records to get the job done, in organizations that are including the community, engaging the communities that they work with to make sure that the work they do is responsive to the needs of the community,” state Rep. Donna Bullock said.

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Some of the money will go to the group YEAH Philly, which is working to build a movement for young people who are left out of other social services.

“This funding for us is for our violent crime initiative,” said YEAH Philly’s Kendra Van de Water. “We work with young people ages 15 to 24 who are charged with violent crimes, whether in the juvenile legal system or the adult legal system. And we provide intensive support, whether that be in court advocacy, we give them holistic support, vital documents for free. Their families often get furniture and groceries and home repairs.”

The funds will also help groups like Nicetown CDC which works to improve the quality of life in Nicetown and surrounding areas.

“This will allow the Nicetown CDC to expand upon an existing program that’s been very successful, measurably successful in terms of prevention, providing mental health, violence prevention activities, recreation and exercise, and giving them a voice,” said the group’s Majeedah Rashid. “It’s very extremely important to us to make sure we include their voice in this process, talk to them, and let them speak freely about how they feel about what’s going on and why they think it’s being caused.”

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State Sen. Vincent Hughes helped bring the money to town in addition to other investments to fight the violence issue.

“This is part of a three pronged strategy. Prevention: $105 million. Protection: $135 million. And prosecution: $50 million,” Hughes said. “We must prevent tragedies from occurring. We must protect communities and individuals from those tragedies.”

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