Anti-violence initiative selects pitch night winners

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Courtesy SAFE Task Force

The Safe Alliances for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force named its winning ideas at its Pitch and Highlight Night to help reduce crime in Grand Rapids.

The event, hosted at Ottawa Hills High School on Wednesday, Nov. 17, awarded opportunities to five nonprofits and one individual to partner with the task force for winning ideas intended to prevent crime, including gun safety, community basketball, domestic violence awareness and arts education. Each winning nonprofit also received $10,000, and the individual received $1,000 to support their ideas and efforts that specifically address challenges facing those 15-24 years of age in the community. Each selected idea is expected to be implemented by spring 2022 and will follow the guidelines of the SAFE Task Force, the Grand Rapids Police Department’s strategic plan and the city’s strategic plan.

The five organizations awarded $10,000 for their proposals were:

We Matter Now

  • A two-day conference that will provide conflict resolution, problem solving and self-efficacy training for youth

Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation

  • Sponsorship of the Community Basketball League where young people will be able to participate in a basketball league in exchange for reduction in participants’ truancy and school suspensions and increased community engagement service with support from mentors while promoting wellness

Neighborhood Association Collaborative of Grand Rapids

  • A collaboration of neighborhood associations in the creation and execution of a “Safe Streets = Safe Neighborhoods” public awareness campaign to focus on educating and training the community on gun safety and evidence-based practices to address the public health crisis of violence and trauma within the city

Puertas Abiertas

  • A six-month program to support adolescents between the age of 14-18 who are survivors of domestic violence. The project will be conducted by two bilingual, culturally sensitive Michigan licensed therapists and one bilingual culturally sensitive physical educator. The services will include one-to-one therapy, group support and physical education

Muse

  • Muse will expand its Muse(ed) opportunities by providing a community production studio that allows people ages 15-24 a space to conduct and learn the fundamentals of photography and videography. This increases the continuum of Muse’s music-based programing, previously funded by SAFE, as it builds a creative ecosystem that promotes a sense of belonging for those who want to identify with people their age outside of the streets.

SAFE awarded $1,000 to Freedom Elevated Defense Solutions (FEDR). In response to increased sales of guns, FEDR will provide training to those who desire to learn how to store and handle firearms in areas most affected by crime. It will provide free basic firearm safety training and ways to properly secure firearms. With the use of a virtual simulator, it will aim to develop safer and more responsible gun owners, with legal feedback from an attorney.

Over the past three years, more than $150,000 has been awarded through Pitch Highlight Nights in an attempt to solve issues 15- to 24-year-old residents face by focusing on issues including gun violence, lack of recreational activities and mental health struggles. The task force works to lower violence in the community by partnering with organizations, individuals and businesses.

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