After 1.5 years and 2 mass shootings, governor releases anti-violence funds

August 15, 2019 Kelly Mena

The state is releasing long-awaited funds to Brooklyn groups working to prevent gun violence in their communities — following two mass shootings in Brooklyn and more than a year and a half after the funding’s initial announcement.

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services told the Brooklyn Eagle that money for community-based violence prevention, previously allocated to Central Brooklyn under the Vital Brooklyn Initiative, has now been made available.

The funding — $500,000  — will be divvied up among nine organizations dedicated to youth programming, according to Janine Kava, a spokesperson for the state’s criminal justice services. Each organization will receive $50,000 in the form of a reimbursement to cover costs backdated through July 1, 2019, and to go toward ongoing efforts to educate and prevent gun violence.

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The contracts were fast-tracked in the wake of the Brownsville mass shooting, and so far five have been executed.

“Our staff continues to work with the remaining grantees to ensure the agency has all required documents on file so their contracts can be executed,” Kava said.

The funding was first announced in March 2017 as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.4 billion plan to transform the neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn — Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick and Crown Heights — that struggle chronically with poverty, crime, poor health and low educational achievement.

Allocations to each of the focus areas within Vital Brooklyn were announced in April 2018, including for “Community-Based Violence Prevention,” with $500,000 slated to “Provide Programming for Young People” as part of that effort. The nine organizations were picked in March 2019.

The aid comes as State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Diana Richardson, whose districts overlap to cover the two sites of the most recent Central Brooklyn shootings, raised concerns over not yet receiving the Vital Brooklyn funds while announcing a separate allocation for $200,000 for six local groups last week.

“After the recent mass shooting in Brownsville, we went to the governor, calling on him to — guess what — release the money, put some crisis funding and to do more … this is a time to give funding to those who know what they are doing,” Richardson said at a press conference.

An additional $4.3 million allocated under the initiative is set to be released this fall to half a dozen organizations for mental health and social welfare services for victims of gun violence and their families. The release date for those funds is slated for Oct. 1, according to Kava.

The groups that are slated to receive $50,000 in funding:

  • 67th Precinct Clergy Council
  • 69th Precinct Clergy Council
  • Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center
  • Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (Midnight Madness)
  • Brownsville Community Development Corp.
  • Crown Heights Youth Collective
  • Foster Park Sports
  • Center Court Innovation/Fund for the City of New York
  • Life Hope, Inc

The organizations set to share the additional $4.3 million this October:

  • Common Justice
  • Center for Court Innovatio/Fund for the City of New York
  • HELP Social Service Corporation
  • North Brooklyn Coalitin Against family Violence
  • Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Correction (Aug. 16 at 10:41 a.m.): Due to a typo, the original version of this article indicated that the nine organizations receiving the $500,000 were selected in March 2018. That was inaccurate, and it has been corrected to 2019. Furthermore, details were added to that same paragraph to better clarify the timeline — that the plan was announced in 2017, with funding for specific focus areas broken down in 2018 and organizations selected in 2019. 

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