Indianapolis to audit $15M in anticipated community anti-violence spending

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INDIANAPOLIS — When Mayor Joe Hogsett announced this week that the 2022 city budget would include $15 million in funding for community anti-violence programs, it was accompanied by the promise that city officials would closely monitor the spending to make sure the grants weren’t wasted.

“These dollars in our community, I think it’s going to be more than our community has seen and I’m really excited to see how impactful it is,” said Lauren Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Public Health and Safety. “Granted, I know that all this money is great, but it’s also kind of scary in the sense that making sure that it’s evaluated correctly, making sure that the people that we’re working with are using the dollars appropriately.”

The money, which boosts city spending from $3 million a year on community-based programs, comes from federal American Rescue Plan funds.

“With that ARPA has allowed us to continue our evaluations,” said Rodriguez, “allow for prescriptive contracts so we can develop these contracts with community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and the people that are going to be helping us with this work.”

The city contracts with the Central Indiana Community Fund to administer the grants and work with recipients on their proposals and audit their results.

“We provide orientation so those are conversations with the awardees to say, ‘This is what’s expected and then these are the dates that you need to send your reports,’” said Alicia Collins, CICF Director of Community Leadership, “so at the front end they know what they are getting themselves into and then we also provide funding for the first half, for the first six months, reevaluate them mid-year of their grant program and then if they’re not meeting their outcomes, within our discretion to hold those funds until they can either produce or those funds are held or suspended.”

LaShauna Triplett of MLT Outreach Center in Martindale Brightwood provides counseling to teens traumatized by violence and coming out of the juvenile justice system.

“We have measurable outcomes, and we do pre-and post-assessments and with that, it gives us data and information on how successful our families are,” she said. “Some of our measurable outcomes are if they come into use in the system or are involved in the judicial system, did they re-offend? Did they get any new cases?

“We have been able to meet all of our benchmarks. Over the summer we worked with over 50 youth, all youth have been successful, they have not had any new offenses, we have had some who have been able to come successfully off house arrest because they went through our workforce development and character development program.

“We haven’t lost any of our youth.”

Triplett said she reports to her CICF monitor several times over the year of the contract.

“They have us working with a program analyst from IU in their Public Policy Institute and my program analyst meets with me and communicates with me monthly to help with our measurable outcomes and to ensure that we have benchmarks that are in alignment with our mission.”

Next week Rodriguez will go before city-county councilors to articulate the administration’s priorities for allocation of community-based anti-violence grants in 2022.

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