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Health Dept. office awards microgrants aimed at violence prevention

 

October 31, 2017



The Health Department’s (ACHD) Office of Violence Prevention recently awarded five microgrants to organizations to integrate violence prevention into their youth development work.

The five organizations receiving a microgrant are Infinite Lifestyle Solutions, Duquesne and Neighborhood Allies, Hope Empowerment Project, Saving Our Sons & Daughters, and Brothers and Sisters Emerging (BASE).

These organizations primarily serve young people in communities with high rates of gun violence, and those rates are reflected in the Department of Human Services’ recent report on the number of homicides in Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh from 2010-15.

“We are very pleased to be able to work with these organizations to expand service to youth as we attempt to address gun violence,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director. “Community violence is truly a public health issue, and it is preventable. The impact that violence has on children, families and communities is devastating, including the mental health issues resulting from experiences of trauma. We look forward to working with these organizations to help reduce violence in our communities.”

With financial support from the Heinz Endowments, the ACHD established the Office of Violence Prevention in the fall of 2016. Under the office, a Community Advisory Board was created to assist the department in choosing public health approaches to violence and data-driven strategies and collaborations, which best serves residents within communities with high rates of violence.

In July of 2017, the Violence Prevention Community Advisory Board awarded $310,000 in funding to FOCUS Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh for street outreach and trauma response in regions of the county that have been disproportionately impacted by gun violence.

Funded organizations include:

Infinite Lifestyle Solutions (Non-profit organization that will serve North Side, Hill District and South Side neighborhoods – $5,000 total budget across 12 months)

The mission of Infinite Lifestyle Solutions is to prevent youth violence through advocacy and professional development, while building a stronger relationship between families and community. Infinite Lifestyle Solutions will be partnering with the Violence Prevention Project at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, with a combined effort to interrupt violence, which will have a more positive impact on potentially decreasing repeat offenders. Efforts include, conducting consecutive eight-week sessions of the “Healing Circles” Curriculum, engage 40 individuals that have been treated for gunshot wounds and connect 40 individuals with additional behavioral supports.

Duquesne and Neighborhood Allies (Non-profit organization that will serve South Side neighborhoods – $4,900 total budget across 24 months)

Duquesne University Psychology Department, Neighborhood Allies, and UrbanKind Institute will be strengthening their existing youth after-school and summer programs by providing specialized services to children who have experienced or witnessed violence. The effects of trauma potentially lead to an increase in violent behavior because children can show intense reactions to reminders of their traumatic event. The organization will deliver curriculum, training and a toolkit to South Pittsburgh Hilltop community organizations that run afterschool programs and summer camps during the 2017-18 school year.

Hope Empowerment Project (Non-profit organization that will serve Duquesne-area neighborhoods – $2,500 total budget for the 2017-18 academic year)

The Hope Empowerment Project (H.E.P.) provides mentoring programming to engage students who are exhibiting at-risk behaviors. The funding will be used to support students who are either reintegrating back to the school system from the justice system, or those youth who are exhibiting at-risk behaviors for gun violence and gender violence, and their consequences. The mentor program will educate five African-American males every eight weeks, conduct a workshop to a local school (elementary or middle) on the importance anti-bullying and the bystander effect, and survey participants.

Saving Our Sons & Daughters (Faith-based organization that will serve North Side neighborhoods – $2,500 total budget across 10 months)

Greater Allen Chapel AME Church will also be partnering with Infinite Lifestyle Solutions to build restorative practices within Pittsburgh Morrow K-8 school. Their project will promote a change in school climate and support youth who have been suspended or have been expelled by providing an ongoing support system for their experiences. There will be eight weeks of “Healing Circles” for eight families that will focus on: spiritual development and empathy training, problem solving and decision making, conflict resolution, etc. Additionally, there will be five parenting workshops during the 2017-18 school year to provide support and to educate parents on trauma informed care, restorative practices and the school climate change.

Brothers and Sisters Emerging (Non-profit organization that will serve Hill District, South Side, East End, Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills neighborhoods – $5,000 total budget across six months)

Brothers and Sisters Emerging (BASE) will establish a network of individuals that will receive training on de-escalation strategies, motivational interview techniques and other methods of reaching young people at risk of perpetrating or becoming the victims of violence. The organization will train 25-30 coaches, mentors and community members in violence prevention strategies, and establish baseline data to measure interactions of participants to prevent violent acts and intervene when they occur.

For more information on the Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention, visit: http://www.achd.net/commhealth/ or call 412-247-7969.

 

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