Research on successful violence-reduction strategies in other cities shows that programs are more effective when led by groups based in violence-torn neighborhoods.
Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at a news conference to discuss the anti-violence funding in the new budget on Wednesday.
Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at a news conference to discuss the anti-violence funding in the new budget on Wednesday.JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
When Philadelphia City Council members last month fought to include $68 million in new spending for violence prevention in this year’s budget, they weren’t just trying to boost the price tag of the city’s response to the record-setting pace of shootings. They were also trying to change the way the city doles out money to organizations working on the city’s priorities.
Council President Darrell L. Clarke and Mayor Jim Kenney on Wednesday unveiled the first detailed glimpse of that new way of doing business with the announcement of how Philadelphia will disburse about $20 million that lawmakers earmarked for community groups.
Instead of funding longstanding partners or large organizations with experience applying for grants, the city intends to funnel the money to medium-sized neighborhood-based groups that will also receive help on navigating the application process, building up their capacity to handle large amounts of funding, and monitoring outcomes.
The money, Clarke said, will go to “organizations that have waited way too long for serious resources to be made available to put them in a better position to deal with the serious work out in the neighborhood, on the ground, everyday, too frequently without any support from government.
“They do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s in their heart. They’re passionate. They work hard,” he said. “We want to make sure we get them the necessary tools and support.”
Research on successful violence-reduction strategies in Chicago, New York, Oakland and other cities shows that programs are more effective when led by groups based in violence-torn neighborhoods and with community members who have the credibility to break through to young people at risk of shooting or being shot.
But many caution that the significant increase in Philadelphia’s investment in that approach won’t amount to much unless the city properly manages the grant program.