This summer, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office will hand out $20,000 to up to 10 nonprofits each for employing at-risk youngsters on projects pertaining to gun violence prevention. The fund was announced last week by Bragg at a press conference and applicants can send in proposals to CJII@islg.cuny.edu until June 27.
The plan is to put New Yorkers ages 15-26 to work from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31, with at least three-fourths of each community organization’s fund going toward paying them. These summer jobs can be anything gun violence prevention-related, but one example floated by the DA was beautifying “hot spots,” or places where shootings statistically happen the most.
“Research shows that if you enhance the space, whether it’s a garden or some other enhancement, that gun violence will reduce in the surrounding area by about 30%,” said Bragg. “That’s the heart of it, we want to get our youth engaged, and really looking not just at youth broadly, but youth that are at risk for gun violence.”
Bragg specifically highlighted those with the trauma of witnessing gun violence in the past or who intimately know someone who has been arrested for gun-related crimes as the initiative’s targets. He estimates roughly 200 young New Yorkers will participate in the program. Additionally, East Harlem, Central and West Harlem, Washington Heights and the Lower East Side are specifically targeted by this initiative. Nonprofits from these four neighborhoods receive priority when applying. Fittingly, the announcement was made on 124th Street, where several leaders, including Congressman Adriano Espaillat, endorsed the plan.
“I commend Manhattan District Attorney Bragg on today’s initiative to support community-based organizations in their efforts to address gun violence and prevention among youth across our city,” said Espaillat at the press conference. “Gun violence affects everyone, and during Gun Violence Awareness Month, we must work together to end gun violence and keep our communities safe.”
Distributed by the DA Office’s Community Justice Investment Initiative, the fund is one of many ways the city is prepping for a summer spike in gun violence in an already tragedy-ridden year. But it’s also an opportunity for the kids to earn some spending money this summer. In fact, the thought has the district attorney feeling quite wistful of his youth.
“I remember my summer jobs and some of the work was meaningful, some of it was not, but the check was always appreciated,” said Bragg, laughing. “We’re not naive. We know this is not a panacea. But this is a piece of the puzzle. And this is why we in government want to get the funding to the community-based organizations who are working with our youth every day and can identify who would most benefit from this, then connect with them so that we can have a productive summer.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w