Democratic Manhattan Attorney General Alvin Bragg is reportedly focused on addressing gun violence in New York City and he just announced a plan to get community members and at-risk individuals involved in dealing with the issue.
On Monday, DA Bragg announced that 10 small grassroots community groups had been chosen as recipients of $20,000 grants to help fund youth programs that are intended to reduce gun violence by giving young people constructive and creative things to do instead, according to The City.
The combined $200,000 in grant money come from a program known as the "Criminal Justice Investment Initiative," which began under Bragg's predecessor, former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, and is funded through civil asset forfeitures involving financial institutions.
During a meeting on Thursday with the 10 groups picked to receive the $20,000 grants, DA Bragg reportedly said, "Gun violence is my number one priority."
"We’re not going to prosecute our way out of this," he added. "This is lives invested in, cases that will not be brought because harm wasn’t done."
The City reported that the 10 different recipient groups operate in seven different neighborhoods and 11 public housing projects that have been deemed "hotspots" for gun violence by the DA's office and will collectively focus on around 100 at-risk youths with various initiatives designed to keep them busy and out of trouble.
One example is an East Harlem-based group called Not Another Child that plans to focus on 10 youths with pending gun charges and provide each with a $1,500 stipend as well as counseling and individualized education or work training over a 10-week period.
In a Monday press release, DA Bragg said in a statement, "Combatting gun violence in Manhattan is my top priority, and prevention efforts that engage young New Yorkers are a crucial component of public safety."
"Each of these organizations has demonstrated its ability to connect with young people in the communities where they live and spend their time, with staff who earn their trust as fellow New Yorkers with lived experience with gun violence," he added. "By integrating young people into positive, stabilizing, and supportive social networks in their communities, we help keep them safe in the long term. I am thankful to all of our partners, and particularly, to the young New Yorkers who will join us this year."
In addition to Not Another Child, other grant recipient groups included The Brotherhood Sister Sol, The Children's Village, Emergent Works, Exodus Transitional Community, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, New Future Foundation, the Police Athletic League, and Street Corner Resources.
Each of those groups will independently focus on as few as four to as many as two dozen youths and provide them with constructive projects or creative initiatives within their communities as well as, in some cases, paid jobs or internships, financial literacy and workforce training, skills-development programs, and counseling, among other things.
New York's Pix11 reported that one of those recipient groups, The Brotherhood Sister Sol, intends to use the funding it received to develop a community garden and hopes to eventually employ as many as 50 youths as paid interns to help manage that garden over the summer months.
Jason Warwin, a co-founder of the group, told the outlet, "Anytime you are engaging young folks in positive activities, you’re keeping them away from other aspects of negative activities that exist in this world."
As for the timing of the issuance of these grants, DA Bragg said, "We know that crime spikes during the hot summer months. We know the importance of keeping our youth engaged."