$15.7 million in grant funding will go to support local strategies to stop gun and group violence across Pennsylvania. Grants were awarded to 40 projects through the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Grant Program administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
In 2019, Governor Wolf signed an Executive Order creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and a Special Council on Gun Violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, as well as the Division of Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
One of the Special Council’s recommendations was to prioritize funding to support community-led efforts and address resource disparities. As a result, PCCD has prioritized support for organizations working at the neighborhood and community level to prevent and reduce violence.
“Gun violence is a scourge that cuts right to the heart of our communities. We must do more to prevent violence in our commonwealth and stop the trauma of violence from blighting our future,” said Gov. Wolf. “These grants will provide communities and local organizations with necessary resources to disrupt violence, promote healing and make our communities safer. This funding is an important next step in tackling the gun violence epidemic and reducing violence in our communities.”
In Berks County, The Salvation Army of Reading will receive $238,062 to support the implementation of trauma-informed group sessions where contracted behavioral health professionals will provide trauma-informed support to children and their families affected by gun violence.
“Gun violence continues to plague our streets and has caused unimaginable suffering for those that have experienced this trauma firsthand,” Guzman said. “This grant award will help our community take a more proactive approach in preventing and ultimately ceasing gun violence. Having personally experienced the great things the Salvation Army has done for our community here in Reading, I know this money will be put to good use.”
Guzman went onto say, “While this influx of money is a step in the right direction to continue addressing the gun violence epidemic, it does not go far enough. We need concreate legislative action in Harrisburg that will play a substantial role in reducing the destruction that gun violence has caused in our community. I look forward to bringing these initiatives to the forefront with my colleagues in Harrisburg with the objective of saving as many lives as possible.”
Gov. Wolf announced the $24 million VIP grant program in September. This is the first round of awards, with a second round expected to be announced in early 2022.