Select Page

Harrisburg, January 26, 2022 – A McKeesport violence prevention program will receive a $150,000 state grant to help address an uptick in incidents that coincided with the COVID pandemic.

“I’m proud of this community-based effort to interact with people where they live and where they congregate to prevent conflict from erupting into violence,” Brewster said. “This boots-on-the-ground approach takes time and hard work but it’s an important complement to wider efforts in the region.”

The Healthy Village Learning Institute requested $150,000 over two years to support an intensive community outreach process in McKeesport that will train and prepare Violence Intervention Outreach workers to directly engage McKeesport resident members on how to respond to community violence. The program will also identify “hot spots” and will connect directly with individuals at risk of perpetrating violence.

The grant, administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee, was among more than $23 million awarded at the committee’s meeting in Harrisburg today.

Brewster, who sits on the committee, congratulated the Healthy Village Learning Institute and several other Allegheny County grant winners for their efforts.

“These grants are highly competitive, and applications far outpace the money available,” Brewster said. “You have to take your best ideas and turn them into solid plans. They did a great job.”

Last year, Brewster worked with colleagues in the Senate and House Democratic Leadership and the Wolf Administration to appropriate $30 million in the 2021-2022 state budget to stem the surge in violence across the state. By December, nearly $23 million of state funds were awarded to community groups and municipalities across the state to combat the increase in gun violence, but applications outstripped the appropriated funds by a ratio of 7-1.

“There’s more work to be done and we’d like to see a continued commitment to local efforts where the programs know their communities and respond to their unique circumstances,” Brewster said.

For detailed information the statewide grant winners, click here.

Allegheny County organizations winning grants today were:

Healthy Village Learning Institute
The Healthy Village Learning Institute requested $150,000 over two years to support the planning and implementation for an intensive community outreach process in McKeesport that will train and prepare Violence Intervention Outreach workers (female and male) to directly engage McKeesport resident members in educating them in how to respond to community violence.

Additionally, the program intends to have a weekly presence throughout McKeesport with concentration on the “hot spots” and will connect directly with individuals at risk of perpetrating an incident of violence. Funds will support the training costs of the part-time Outreach Workers and Violence Specialists/Interrupters; several consultants, including a Program Coordinator, two part-time Summer Violence Prevention Specialists/Interrupters; as well as supplies to support their work, including laptops and cellphones.

Community College of Allegheny County – $800,000
Requested funds to develop a holistic approach to reducing the ever-increasing rates of gun violence for youth within the City of Pittsburgh and all of Allegheny County. CCAC’s approach includes mental health/social work services, transportation services to and from workforce development programs provided by CCAC as well as mentorship opportunities during and after successful completion of any program provided through CCAC. Funds will support personnel (one full-time staff member to manage the program, two full-time staff members to provide academic support and job search services); financial assistance to potential participants; transportation services for participants to attend courses at the West Hills Center; various supplies and operating expenses; and compensation for licensed community mental health providers in the region.

Foundation of HOPE – $1.3 million
The Foundation of HOPE is requesting up to $1,300,000 to support the implementation of an Aftercare/Diversion model program where trained peer support specialists work hand in hand with case managers and a mental health therapist to support those negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, thereby attempting to break the cycle of incarceration and gun violence within marginalized communities. Additionally, this request would permit the Foundation of HOPE to support and serve those traumatized for almost two years of isolation behind bars for 23/24 hours as a result of COVID isolation restrictions. These efforts would strengthen families and support local communities. Funds will support the training and hiring of several peer support specialists; additional case managers; a mental health therapist; the cost of a consultant; support staff. Funds would also cover programming and supplies to support their work, including benefits, laptops and cellphones, travel, and community education expenses.