Boston

Boston Organizations Receive Funding for Gang Violence Prevention

Nineteen organizations will receive $1.6 million in funding from the Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative to prevent gang violence in Boston

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Boston leaders plan to award $1.6 million in state funding to 19 community groups and public safety organizations to prevent gang violence.

"We know that gang prevention works the best through programming, so we can't do it without our nonprofits in our city-based organizations," said DeMon Bills, project coordinator for the Boston Police Department.

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He told the Boston City Council Public Safety Committee during a hearing Tuesday that each year, the department receives about 50 applications for grants from the Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative, but they can only be awarded to about 20 applicants.

Funded by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Office of Grants and Research, the Shannon grant is modeled after the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's comprehensive gang model, which focuses on five interrelated core strategies:

  • Community Mobilization — Community engagement and collaboration
  • Opportunities Provision — Education training, and employment programs
  • Social Intervention — Outreach and provision of services, for gang-involved youth, and their families
  • Suppression — Community policing
  • Organizational Change — Development of policy for effective use of resources

"I always ask for the council's support in supporting these types of funds," said Bills. "A lot of times, it's a very limited field of funding for nonprofits in city-based places to apply to, and this is one of the few that are in our city."

Project RIGHT is among the organizations chosen to receive some of the funding. Co-director Michael Kuzo said it is still seeing the impact of the isolation from the pandemic.

"This is allowing us to regain our footing, rebuild some relations and kind of prevent stuff before it happens," Kuzo said. "A lot of times, when they are in gangs or so forth, we've got other people who might know them or who might help mentor or redirect them to a different direction."

He has been pushing for a community center in the Grove Hall area for years in an effort to provide positive spaces for youth.

The most recent state report on the Shannon grant claims in 2021, the Boston Police Department identified 102 active gangs and classified 738 individuals between the ages of 14 and 24 as gang-involved.

"I think people need to recognize that this is a very serious issue," Bills said. "That will continue to escalate if we don't move ahead on this. It takes a balance approach. We need to work with schools, the schools need to work with law enforcement, they need to work with the community. Parents and students need to be all engaged as part of this, including with city government."

Bills says each year, the grant funds programming for hundreds of young people.

In 2022, 1,471 clients received case management services, 221 received street outreach services, 978 individuals participated in employment programs part-time and full-time, and 1,437 participated in education-based programs.

The following organizations are 2023 recipients:

  • Boston Medical Center
  • Boston Centers for Youth and Families
  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • You Boston
  • Suffolk County Sheriff
  • Suffolk County District Attorney
  • Youth Connect
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • College Bound Dorchester
  • Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
  • Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center
  • Mothers for Justice and Equality
  • My Life My Choice
  • Strive JRI
  • More Than Words
  • Project Right
  • Young Man With a Plan
  • Maverick Landing
  • Freedom House
  • BPS Safety Services, working with an organization called Agency
  • YouthBuild Boston
  • ABCD
  • Teen Empowerment
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