Philadelphia announced $2.2 million in grants Thursday for antiviolence programs at five community organizations, the first money awarded from a new $22 million program to help address the city’s gun violence crisis.
Ranging in size from $1 million to $117,000, the grants will go to organizations that provide housing assistance, mentorship programs, trauma counseling, job training, and youth music programs.
City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney touted the program as a highlight of the budget deal they reached in June, and said that funding community groups would transform the way the city addresses gun violence. Kenney called the awarding of the first grants “a critical milestone” and said more would follow in the coming weeks.
The city received a total of 212 applications and is aiming to award all money by mid-November, said Kenney administration spokesperson Kevin Lessard.
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City officials initially said the money would start going out to community groups in September. The application deadline was later extended — and the city has $20 million left to award. The projects that get funded must launch or operate between this fall and next summer, according to the city’s requirements.
The groups and programs in the first round include:
New Options More Opportunities will get $1 million to lease a South Philadelphia apartment building and offer rental assistance and a case manager to combat youth homelessness.
Every Murder Is Real will get $760,001 to hire more victim advocates and expand its family advocacy services and support groups. The group provides trauma-informed care and grief counseling to families hurt by gun violence.
ManUpPHL will get $242,768 for its mentoring program that teaches young men about the causes and effects of gun violence. The grant will fund several groups of participants in the two-week program, with each receiving $240 and a job offer from a partner organization.
Uplift Workforce Solutions will get $150,000 to help formerly incarcerated residents find jobs. The group aims to give job training and placement to 300 people by the end of 2022, and give them ongoing support for three years.
Beyond the Bars will get $117,150 to support its youth music programs. The organization will build eight recording studios as well as a mobile recording studio to work with students in neighborhoods most affected by gun violence, and will engage young people who have experienced or witnessed violence.
Those organizations still must sign grant agreements before receiving their funding, Lessard said. They will also need to provide monthly reports on expenditures and develop metrics for measuring impact, such as attendance rate among participants, rates of gun violence victimization among participants, or number of people served.
Atif Bostic, executive director of Uplift Workforce Solutions, said the grant will help his organization work with an additional 30 people in the next year — a 10% increase. He said the group has a successful track record of just a 2% recidivism rate among participants, and a 98% job placement rate.
“This program allows us to engage more individuals,” he said.
The grant program launches as the city faces an ongoing surge in shootings. As of Wednesday, there were 432 homicides in Philadelphia this year — a 14% increase compared with the same date last year — with most of them by gunfire.
Councilmembers called for increases to antiviolence spending during budget negotiations this spring, arguing that the city should give money directly to existing community groups that already work in neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence.
The approved budget for the current fiscal year included $68 million in new spending on antiviolence efforts. But most of that spending was already part of Kenney’s budget proposal, and was simply reclassified as antiviolence spending during negotiations. Of the $27.1 million actually added through budget talks, $22 million was for the new grant program.
“The Anti-Violence Community Partnership Grants are part of a paradigm shift in how city government will fight gun violence and fund community groups dealing with the issue for years to come,” said Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who chairs Council’s special committee on gun violence prevention.