Michigan awards grants to tackle ‘root causes’ of violence

By Kyle Kaminski

December 21, 2023

Millions of dollars in state funding is going out to help local organizations curb violence in their own communities.

MICHIGAN—Several community groups dedicated to curbing violence across Michigan are set to expand their prevention efforts next year after getting some help from the state government.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) this week announced more than $7 million in grant funding was awarded to eight organizations across the state as part of ongoing efforts from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to reduce community violence.

“I am committed to continuing to keep Michigan communities safe, and supporting this funding will help accomplish that,” Whitmer said of the state grant program earlier this year. “Michigan has a diverse collection of communities throughout our state, and these evidence-based strategies will support the unique needs of each region and reduce violence in our state.”

Community violence—which includes homicides and non-fatal shootings—causes harm and trauma to communities across Michigan, especially in racially segregated and historically disinvested neighborhoods, state officials said. Statistics show that at least nine people are injured and at least another four people are killed by guns every day in Michigan.

The most recent statewide data also shows the problem got worse during the pandemic, with Michigan gun deaths surging in 2020 and 2021, before declining again in 2022. 

In addition to signing a series of gun safety reforms into law earlier this year, Whitmer also signed a supplemental budget bill that provided millions of dollars to state health officials to help address the issue—namely because those dealing with violence are at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases and may have limited opportunities to engage in healthy behaviors.

“All Michigan residents should feel safe in their homes, schools and communities,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “We must listen to our community leaders about what works in preventing violence and reducing its adverse outcomes in our local communities. We also must provide them with the support they need to continue to make a difference. Gun violence and other types of violence are a threat to public health, but we can work together.”

The grants were open to nonprofit, private and public organizations, federally recognized tribes, and public universities, and are intended to support direct, community-based services that can play a role in interrupting rising levels of violence before they have a chance to get worse.

Dozens of groups applied to receive funding; Eight groups got up to $1 million each—mostly to support street outreach programs to help deter crime and provide support in Allegan, Kent, Oakland, Oceana, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Newaygo, Ottawa, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. 

They include:

  • Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan ($1 million)

This grant will focus on supporting at-risk youth in the city of Detroit—namely by funding programs designed to build “strength-based skills sets” and provide behavioral health support

  • Gryphon Place ($1 million)

This grant will support street outreach and wraparound services for youth in Kalamazoo County. 

  • Michigan Public Health Institute ($1 million)

This grant will support an existing gun violence intervention program in Greater Lansing. 

  • Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency ($1 million)

This grant will focus on providing street outreach to help deter crime and connecting more Wayne County residents to community-based supports, specifically in the 9th Precinct. 

  • Oakland Community Health Network ($1 million)

This grant will focus on street outreach, re-entry services, and behavioral health supports.

  • Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office ($999,000)

This grant will allow the agency to expand its “Life is Valuable Everyday” program. 

  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation ($900,000)

This grant will focus on street outreach, case management, victim assistance, workforce readiness, and job training programs, specifically focused on southwest Detroit and Downriver. 

  • Migrant Legal Aid, Inc. ($200,000)

This grant will focus on providing outreach and victim services, specifically for migrant farmworker communities in Allegan, Kent, Oceana, Newaygo, and Ottawa counties. 

READ MORE: Michigan cops find hundreds of guns in ‘Safe Neighborhoods’ crackdown

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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