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 Fontana: Regional Efforts Earn $2M in Violence Prevention Grants

HARRISBURG, January 27, 2022 – Efforts to mitigate the rise in violence in the Pittsburgh region earned more than $2 million in state grants, Sen. Wayne Fontana announced today.

“We haven’t been immune from the increasing violence that has accompanied the pandemic and has affected cities large and small across Pennsylvania and the nation,” Fontana said. “Organizations across Allegheny County have been working on solutions and that work has been rewarded with state investment.”

The grants, administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee, were among more than $23 million awarded statewide at the committee’s meeting in Harrisburg today. 

“When eligibility for these grants was announced, the response was overwhelming,” Fontana said. “The PCCD received far more requests than there was available funding so the competition for dollars was intense. Local organization did the hard work and earned the investment.”

Last year, Fontana supported colleagues in the Senate, House Democratic Leadership and the Wolf Administration to appropriate $30 million in the 2021-2022 state budget to stem the surge in violence across the state.  By December, nearly $23 million of state funds were awarded to community groups and municipalities across the state to combat the increase in gun violence, but applications outstripped the appropriated funds by a ratio of 7-1.

The Wolf Administration added an additional $15 to the program from American Rescue Plan Funds last week.

“The work done by today’s grant winners will go a long way to make the case for continued investment in both community-based and institutional programs that work to mitigate violence before it happens,” Fontana said. “Violence is costly to communities so these investments should pay dividends.”

For detailed information the statewide grant winners, click here.

Organizations winning grants today were:

Community College of Allegheny County – $800,000

Requested funds to develop a holistic approach to reducing the ever-increasing rates of gun violence for youth within the City of Pittsburgh and all of Allegheny County. CCAC’s approach includes mental health/social work services, transportation services to and from workforce development programs provided by CCAC as well as mentorship opportunities during and after successful completion of any program provided through CCAC. Funds will support personnel (one full-time staff member to manage the program, two full-time staff members to provide academic support and job search services); financial assistance to potential participants; transportation services for participants to attend courses at the West Hills Center; various supplies and operating expenses; and compensation for licensed community mental health providers in the region.

Foundation of HOPE – $1.3 million

The Foundation of HOPE is requesting up to $1,300,000 to support the implementation of an Aftercare/Diversion model program where trained peer support specialists work hand in hand with case managers and a mental health therapist to support those negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, thereby attempting to break the cycle of incarceration and gun violence within marginalized communities. Additionally, this request would permit the Foundation of HOPE to support and serve those traumatized for almost two years of isolation behind bars for 23/24 hours as a result of COVID isolation restrictions. These efforts would strengthen families and support local communities. Funds will support the training and hiring of several peer support specialists; additional case managers; a mental health therapist; the cost of a consultant; support staff. Funds would also cover programming and supplies to support their work, including benefits, laptops and cellphones, travel, and community education expenses.

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