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Local Groups Take Action Against Gun Violence, But Need Funds

Community groups across the country that have long sought to prevent violence are adopting new ways to stem the surge in shootings over the past two years as well as a spike in gun purchases, the Associated Press reports. Known as community violence intervention, the approach deploys people with personal connections — and credibility — with those most likely to be involved in gun violence. Though the approach isn’t new, interest in it is growing. The Biden administration has made community violence intervention a key priority. It has designated $5 billion in support over eight years, though that funding has stalled in Congress. And under the just-passed bipartisan gun violence law, which seeks to keep guns away from dangerous people after the Uvalde killings fanned momentum for reforms, Congress provided $250 million for community violence prevention. The administration has also told municipalities and states that they could spend federal stimulus money, allocated last year, for violence intervention. Support for these local organizations marks a departure from a long-standing reliance on policing to curb gun violence. Alia Harvey Quinn, executive director of FORCE Detroit, likens the approach to “how we prevent drunk driving with our friends: just intervening and snatching the keys aggressively and using our relationships to do so.”


Community groups, like those in Seattle, Newark and Baltimore, are part of an 18-month initiative sponsored by the Biden administration and paid for by a dozen philanthropic foundations. The Community Violence Intervention Collaborative launched in June 2021 to train and expand local organizations in 16 cities. The training is funded by $7.4 million from the philanthropies, including the Ford Foundation. So far, few large cities or states have responded to Biden’s call to invest in these programs. But municipalities have until 2024 to allocate their funding from the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which was enacted in 2021. Tim Daly of The Joyce Foundation, said government investment is critical. “We need public dollars to be able to scale those strategies to the extent that is necessary,” Daly said. Until then, organizations that intervene in gun violence are competing for a limited number of grants. Several groups that underwent training sponsored by the White House and philanthropies said they could use much more funding. “By bringing philanthropy, the federal government and (community intervention) leaders together in this first-of-its-kind partnership, it puts our country on a path to redefining public safety in this country and reducing gun violence,” said Julie Rodriguez, a senior advisor to Biden.

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