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Council approves crime prevention grants

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INDIANAPOLIS – After several months of behind the scenes negotiations, city-county councilors have approved a plan to disburse $2 million on city crime prevention funds.

The council’s decision came the same day that the Central Indiana Community Foundation announced a plan to spend $2.3 million for summer youth programs.

Councilors chose to spend half the city appropriation on reentry programs targeting offenders recently released from the Department of Corrections who are coming back home to Indianapolis.

Those funds will support programs to provide counseling and job assistance to parolees.

The remainder of the city funding will finance programs to address gun violence, community policing and community outreach.

The CICF will assist the city in seeking and vetting applications and making recommendations as to what organizations should receive the crime prevention funds. Organizations hoping to get funding are concerned about the amount of time it’s taking.

“We’re not going to get the money now until the end of summer so that means that we’re going to go through May, June, (and) July without the crime prevention dollars being put on the streets to faith-based groups that are going to be working closely with IMPD and their strategy to reduce violence,” said Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition.

“When you say end of August, summer’s gone. Lot of things can happen before then… that can be bad, because you know, that’s where a lot of crime are committed is during the summer months,” added Rev. Malachi Walker, founder of Young Men Inc. The program takes in up to 70 children for a daily summer camp that emphasizes education, moral training, activities and lunch.

Walker’s boys often raise money on their own with a drum line on city street corners. Walker said his program has a $61,000 budget. Currently, he’s raised $21,000 and expects to field phone calls from dozens of parents in May searching for a summer program for their children.

About $3,000 of Walker’s budget typically comes from the Summer Youth Program Fund administered by the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

The fund is supported by charitable partners such as the Lilly Endowment, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and others.

About $2.3 million will be awarded to 154 organizations operating 184 summer programs for an estimated 40,000 youngsters.

“Summer learning loss and improving academic enrichment over the summer months” are priorities, according to Roderick Wheeler of the CICF.

He says youth employment and summer feeding programs are also priorities.

“This announcement is good to notify parents if you’re thinking about a summer program, try to enroll them now. Look at some of the public resources to try to find a good place for your young person in the summertime.”

Wheeler says parents can log on to Marion County Commission on Youth’s website to learn about available programs or call 921-1266.