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Philly plans to start giving out millions in anti-violence funds next month

“There’s an urgency to get money out the door,” one official said as the city moves to give $22 million in grants to community groups.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke speaks at a news conference to discuss the anti-violence funding in Philadelphia's latest budget.
Council President Darrell L. Clarke speaks at a news conference to discuss the anti-violence funding in Philadelphia's latest budget.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia will soon begin handing out millions of dollars to community groups working to combat the city’s surge in shootings, with a focus on programs aimed at healing trauma and creating safe havens and mentorship.

The application for the city’s $22 million anti-violence grant program, released Friday, laid out an aggressive timeline to begin cutting checks to community groups in September.

“With the level of shootings and violence in too many of our neighborhoods, there is literally no time to waste,” City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said in a statement.

The city will consider applications on a rolling basis beginning Aug. 20, but applications will be accepted until Sept. 3.

The application also revealed more about the city’s criteria and plans for the grant money — which Mayor Jim Kenney and Council have highlighted as a key part of the budget deal they reached in June and a critical step toward reducing violence.

» READ MORE: Philadelphia is hoping to change the way it fights gun violence by funding smaller community groups

The grants will range in size from $100,000 to $1 million and are intended for medium-size community nonprofits with annual budgets of less than $15 million. Proposals must have a focus on either trauma-informed healing — such as providing space for victims, offenders, and family members to come together to explore the impact of gun violence — or safe havens and mentorship that would engage young adults through structured programs such as workforce development.

The application materials said more weight will be given to existing programs that have been successful and to programs in zip codes most impacted by gun violence. But the application noted that new ideas and programs are welcome, too.

» READ MORE: Philly is pouring millions into violence prevention as shootings soar. What does that money buy?

The city is hoping to attract groups that have innovative programs but historically haven’t received government grants, Erica Atwood, director of the city’s Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, said at a news conference this week.

Atwood said the city hopes to send checks to selected groups by the end of September.

“There’s an urgency to get money out the door,” she said. “We’ve got to move it quick.”

The city will also provide support to groups receiving money to help them improve and expand. Kenney and Council announced last week that a Violence Prevention and Opportunity Monitoring Group, made up of Council members and administration officials, would oversee the process.

“We’ll invest in community-driven violence prevention work through funding and organizational supports, and help build on what’s working through evaluation and capacity building,” Kenney said in a statement.

The application listed metrics by which the programs will be evaluated on a monthly basis, such as recruitment and retention of participants from high-risk groups, arrest and recidivism rates among participants, measures of decreased substance use, attendance rate among participants, and high school diploma or GED attainment among participants.