April 22, 2024

Cleveland funding efforts to curb violence

CLEVELAND — As we head into a new year, several groups are working to change the narrative when it comes to violent crime in Cleveland—and a recent boost in funding could help them get there.

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In many Cleveland neighborhoods you don’t have to go far to see the impact of violent crime.

“A lot of people saying ‘enough is enough’. Too many children are dying. Too many people’s lives are being taken,” Michelle Bell said.

Bell has lived with it since 2019.

“February 10 it will be five years and no one has been brought to justice,” she said.

Months after her son was shot while driving through his neighborhood with a friend, she started M-PAC cleveland—a group committed to supporting surviving families of gun violence.

“I don’t want another mother to feel the pain and what can i do to be a part of that solution,” bell said.

M-PAC is one of 29 organizations getting a grant from the Cleveland Neighborhood Safety Fund’s first round of $1 million. The city announced the creation of the fund in October in response to an uptick in violent crime, especially among youth and young adults.

“We looked at everything from geography to demographics to type of program. Was it prevention focused?” Sonya Pryor-Jones said.

Pryor-Jones is Cleveland’s Chief of Youth and Family Success, and a member of the advisory committee that determined which of the 150 applicants would receive funding.

“We know that they are pushing up against long-term systemic issues. Poverty is a real issue when it comes to violence,” she said. “With the support of these finances as well as with bringing these different interventions organizations together to better coordinate their services, that we’re going to see long-term a decrease in violence and healthier communities across our city.”

“It’s extremely important. Have you seen the rates?” said El Jay’em, who works with together we rise, a group that is receiving $45,000 to use this year.

Jay’em said the money will help finance efforts to build a clubhouse and respond to situations in the community that don’t require police.

“We have both lost people close to use due to gun violence. Again, project ripple is for the people by the people. We’re not third parties. We understand the pain. We understand the grief that people are going through. That’s why we know the resources that are needed. We are from the community,” she said.

More than 150 people were killed in 2023, according to police. Most victims are between 18 and 33 years old and an increasing number are children. All of it is too much for Jay’em and bell.

“Let’s work together to solve this. Let’s work together to try to prevent it,” Bell said.

The safety fund includes $10 million American Rescue Plan dollars that are invested and housed in the Cleveland Foundation. The plan is to distribute $1 million each year to organizations working to reduce violent crime.

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