Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and colleagues talk about efforts to prevent violence. --Supplied photo

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and colleagues talk about efforts to prevent violence. --Supplied photo

County funds gun violence work

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‘Safe and thriving communities’ the goal, Preckwinkle says 

From staff reports

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined last week by Cook County Commissioners Brandon Johnson, Dennis Deer, Frank Aguilar, Alma Anaya and Bridget Degnen and Avik Das, Executive Director of the Justice Advisory Council, to announce the recipients of the County’s Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction Grant awards.

More than 75 representatives from the newly awarded organizations attended the inaugural convening to connect and discuss their work.

“This historic investment in violence prevention programming brings us closer to our goal of providing safe and thriving communities for all residents,” Preckwinkle said. “By leveraging federal funding, we are making the unprecedented investment needed to address the tragically high levels of gun violence we have seen in our County. Making services more widely available to residents in need will not just save lives, it will strengthen our communities that have been left vulnerable to gun violence. This investment will help prevent and reduce violence, but it will also help us heal and move beyond this crisis together as a community.”

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and colleagues talk about efforts to prevent violence. –Supplied photo

Some Southwest Side recipients include the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Metropolitan Family Services, St. Anthony Hospital and Sinai Urban Health Institute.

A full list of recipients is available at: cookcountyil.gov/JACGrants.

The American Rescue Plan Act-funded grant program, is managed by the Cook County Justice Advisory Council (JAC). Since 2015, the JAC has managed more than $50 million in county funded grants for violence prevention, services for returning residents and other areas that increase community safety and help prevent involvement in the criminal justice system. This new grant initiative was designed as a direct response to the increased levels of gun violence experienced during the pandemic. The grant program prioritizes community areas and municipalities in Cook County that have endured the highest rates of gun violence.

“Gun violence is not acceptable anywhere, and can never be accepted as normal,” Aguilar said. “We cannot accept children growing up without parents, lost to gun violence. We cannot accept a world where parents lose their children to senseless shootings. These grants, and all the hard work of elected officials and stakeholders, dedicated front-line organizations, clergy and families are our promise to never accept gun violence as normal. We must commit to eliminating gun violence and addressing the root issues that cause violence in our communities.”

In total, nearly $75 million in grants were approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners for this round of funding. This is a historic level of funding for violence prevention in Cook County. Under the grant initiative, 34 awards were made to individual organizations and coalitions providing an array of evidence-based violence prevention services including street outreach, case management, counseling and mental health services, employment support and youth programming.

Work will be carried out by 68 separate organizations funded through this initiative.

“The response to this grant opportunity was overwhelming and inspiring,” said Avik Das, Executive Director of the Justice Advisory Council. “Some 190 grant applications were submitted, representing nearly 400 organizations with a total request of almost $500 million. The amount of high-quality, innovative programs proposed under this initiative is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the organizations working on the ground to advance gun violence prevention and reduction work in our communities. We are beyond proud to be investing in these organizations; the lasting impact they will have in the lives of so many residents will be transformative for Cook County.”

The three-year grant period of these awards will begin in September 2022 at which time the awarded organizations will receive their first allotment of funds pursuant to their respective award agreements and budgets. Many of the service providers are building upon and expanding existing programming under this initiative, establishing wider collaborations, and preparations are already underway.

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