County allocates CARES Act funding to violence prevention program

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The Kent County Board of Commissioners recently allocated $500,000 of CARES Act funding to community violence prevention grants to help stem the increasing rates of violence occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have seen a rise in violent crime throughout the county since the start of the pandemic,” Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said. “We need to work together as a community on prevention and education initiatives that can help reduce the incidents that result in violence.”

The Community Violence Prevention Grant Program will assist nonprofit organizations in preventing violent behaviors from occurring, stopping the progression of violence and rehabilitating individuals with established violent behavior. To receive a grant, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) based in Kent County
  • Been in existence for at least one year
  • Deliver all programming in Kent County
  • Comply with all applicable state and federal laws
  • Provide a written summary of the project and its outcomes in January 2021

A selection committee comprised of Kent County leaders, law enforcement and community members will award grants ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. The grant program will be administered by the Heart of West Michigan United Way.

“Ensuring we have a safe community is a fundamental role of government. However, we alone cannot solve the spike in violent crimes that are occurring because of COVID-19,” said Mandy Bolter, chair of the board of commissioners. “It was a priority for the board to support local, grassroots programs that are working to make our communities safe for all.”

Grant applications are due to the Heart of West Michigan United Way by noon on Monday, and all funds must be expended by Dec. 15, pursuant to federal requirements.

Organizations can apply at hwmuw.org.

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