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Akron mayor announces new funding focusing on youth violence prevention

akron's municipal building
Akron City Hall
/
Akron City Council
Akron City Hall

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan Thursday announced the latest round of grants meant to curb violence in the city. A focus of the $2.8 million in funding is on opportunities for youth.

The new spending brings the total invested so far in the city's Violence Intervention and Prevention program from American Rescue Plan Act funds to $4.4 million.

Jerome Moss, founder of Guys and Gals, a nonprofit that received $100,000 in new funding Thursday, said it will help the program continue to scale up its offerings to help more young people.

Moss said the program includes weekly mentoring sessions at Akron Public Schools sites, a youth summer camp and a yearly men's health clinic and basketball event for youth and adults called Hoop for Coop, named in honor of Moss’ friend who died suddenly in his early 30s.

Moss said one of his most important mentorship sessions came recently with some students at Buchtel High School after an incident where a student was stabbed by another student.

“It was just sad because we only had an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and a half, to give them enough information they’d need,” he said, noting he talked to the students about anger management, ethical decision-making and how to manage emotions.

He said young people coming from impoverished backgrounds are dealing with a lot in Akron, and aren’t learning healthy coping skills, which is where the mentoring sessions can be helpful.

Guys and Gals is just one part of the equation, Moss said, noting he works with other local agencies and nonprofits as much as he can.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan in a press release said the entire community needs to work together to mitigate violence the community is seeing.

“We’ve heard dozens of success stories coming from the organizations funded in the first rounds of the VIP program, so we know these dollars are making a tangible difference in our community,” Horrigan said. “By funding both legacy institutions and more grassroots and faith-based organizations this round, we can really take a holistic approach to address the causes of violence and violent behavior in our young people and get them on a path to a brighter future.”

Generally speaking, much of the funding in this round appeared to go toward supporting youth mentorship opportunities, more chances for youth to learn new skills, as well as expanding access to resources to help young people deal with hard emotions like grief and anger.

Other nonprofits and community agencies that received funding announced Thursday include the following:

  • Akron Urban League - $100,000 to provide provide “mentorship and life skills coaching to teens and young adults and will work alongside the Young Adult Group to identify a problem within their community, seek alternatives to address the issues, and develop a strategic plan to implement their ideas and solutions to bring about community change.”
  • AxessPointe - $100,000 to create a community health worker position with a focus on violence intervention and prevention.
  • Project Ujima - $132,565 for “facilitation of Peace Circles in the community beginning in 2023 with a focus of healing the community to reduce violence & assisting with creation of the Strategic Plan around Violence Intervention & Prevention for the City of Akron.”
  • United Way of Summit & Medina Counties - $125,000 to partner with Akron Public Schools and other local agencies to design and launch an “out-of-school time network” meant to help students find safe, productive things to do after school.
  • House of the Lord - $100,000 to expand application of its Grief Recovery Method to address “pain and suffering to communities impacted from the killing of a loved one.”
  • Alchemy Inc. - $100,000 to offer its mentoring program at 6 Akron schools to “increase the Social and Emotional Learning of students, including improvements in self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, decision-making, social awareness, relationship skills, and post-secondary educational success.

Check out the full list here.

Denico Buckley-Knight, the city’s youth and community opportunity director said he’s seen the positive impact the grants have made so far in the nine months since the city began releasing the funds.

“Our community has a real passion for wanting to help our young people turn away from a life of violence and instead provide them with resources, skills, training, and support to lead productive, healthy lives,” Buckley-Knight said.

Conor Morris covers education in Northeast Ohio.