PITTSBURGH — Gun violence is happening across Pennsylvania and at a growing rate. New data shows that PA is one of the growing number of states where gun deaths outweigh automobile deaths.
“One of the challenges we’ve seen is that the violence is plaguing people who are younger and younger. We have to address these children. We can’t even consider how their education plays out without considering the trauma in their lives,” said Rev. Paul Abernathy with The Neighborhood Resilience Project.
Abernathy’s group deploys a trauma response team to help every time a gun goes off in his community, but there are never enough resources for every situation.
“We are not going to fight our way out of this from a law enforcement perspective. We have to invest in people and connect them with resources,” said Rep. Austin Davis.
That’s where state lawmakers come into play.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency awarded grants to the following projects:
- $350,000 to 1Hood Media Academy for a new gun violence prevention campaign for greater Pittsburgh. The project will provide youth and young adults with training and resources to work as media activists to conduct campaigns in their own communities and on social media, where much of the gun violence originates and escalates.
- $1,496,000 to Allegheny County to implement Cure Violence in communities most impacted by gun violence, including Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, McKees Rocks, Stowe, McKeesport, Homestead, Duquesne, Clairton, Rankin and Braddock.
- $346,820 to Carnegie Library of Homestead to support its Youth Development and Restorative Justice Program, where trained counselors and program coordinators mentor at-risk youth to develop conflict-resolution skills to reduce violent crime among teenagers.
- $1,435,375 to the Center for Employment Opportunities to support Group Violence Intervention programming in its Pittsburgh office, as well as enhance a supportive service network and trauma-informed care approach in its Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Harrisburg offices.
- $50,000 to Homewood Community Sports for community sports, mentoring and enrichment to deter youth from gun or group violence. The organization said the funding will create safe spaces, where participants can focus on conflict resolution and mediations to prevent homicide and gun violence in Homewood.
- $500,000 to the Neighborhood Resilience Project to support and expand its Trauma Response Team, which cares for the acute needs of family and friends of victims killed by gun violence across all of Allegheny County. The organization anticipates this funding will help support 1,000 additional people over the next two years.
- $700,000 to The Kingsley Association to support the expansion of its Teen LEAD Program. The program is a year-long learning experience for at-risk teens ages 13-19 in the East End communities of Pittsburgh to help them to apply life skills learning, build a positive self-image, recognize personal leadership characteristics, and gain part-time employment.
“A lot of those folks are already doing the work in the communities; for example, one of the recipients was Allegheny County Department of Human Services to implement Cure Violence reduction strategies. Another is 1Hood Media, who’s been on the front lines for gun reduction,” Davis said.
By providing more funding to community organizations, lawmakers believe it’s the first step to investing in people. Abernathy thinks it will make a huge difference for his project.
“It will enable us to increase the capacity that our community needs to facilitate a healing process when gun violence affects our community. It’s important we are there in that moment,” Abernathy said.
Community organizations across the state received just over $15 million in funding with more than 340 applications submitted.