The School District of Philadelphia has received a $1 million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to stem ongoing violence. The announcement comes just weeks after a deadly shooting near Roxborough High School that killed 14-year-old Nicolas Elizalde and hurt several other teens.
Since then, Roxborough High has received $500,000 to up its security. This new million-dollar grant will go towards starting a Youth Violence Reduction Initiative at John Bartram High School.
Philadelphia’s Superintendent Tony B. Watlington said rising gun violence is “traumatizing” to everyone, “We know that our schools are still the safest places for our students,” Watlington said “This initiative will enhance our safety efforts by working to target and support youth at risk of gang involvement.”
Bartram was selected based on existing issues of violence in the community. In January, 17-year-old Christopher Braxton was shot and killed just outside the school, resulting in a lockdown. And just a few weeks ago, Bartram High canceled a football game due to an undisclosed threat.
Bartram High principal Brian Johnson said community violence in the area has seen an “uptick” and hopes the program will give students “a different type of connection to help them thrive now and beyond school.”
The initiative is in partnership with Temple University, CureViolence, SDP Office of Support Services, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the juvenile probation department. A project assistant at Bartram High School will lead crisis intervention, violence interruption, de-escalation, and mediations, along with in-depth case management services for teens with a likelihood of gang involvement.
The Office of School Safety said it will evaluate the success of the Bartram High initiative before expanding to other schools.
Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.