Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron Announces More Than $5.4 Million in Grants from the Department of Justice to Reduce Community Violence in Baltimore

4 mins read
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

Baltimore, Maryland – United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron announced today that the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced grant awards totaling $5,446,796 to three Baltimore community-based organizations to help reduce gun crime and other violence.  The grants are part of $100 million being awarded across the U.S. under OJP’s Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative.  OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon announced the awards during a roundtable meeting yesterday with Baltimore youth hosted by ROCA, Inc., one of three organizations in Baltimore receiving funding.  The other two Baltimore organizations receiving grants are the Black Mental Health Alliance for Education and Consultation, Inc., and the Living Classrooms Foundation, Inc.

“Gun violence is a plague in Baltimore.  The community organizations receiving grants today are working directly in the community to address the issues that lead to gun crime and other violence.  I am grateful to OJP for giving them the funds they need to expand their programs and I look forward to seeing the positive results of their work,” said United States Attorney Erek L. Barron.

“The grants announced today, which will go directly to supporting community violence intervention efforts, are an important part of our strategy to leverage the full force of the Department – including all 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices, our law enforcement agencies, and grant-making components – to combat violent crime and keep communities safe,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“For too long, we have undervalued the wealth of resources available through community organizations and those with lived experience,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Solomon. “We know there’s a better way, one that builds on what we have learned about violence and its causes. If we hope to achieve sustainable reductions in violence, we must embrace our community assets as a central ingredient in violence reduction strategies.”

The Black Mental Health Alliance has been awarded a grant of $1,497,989 to engage residents on the corners of open-air drug markets and hotspots for violent crime in the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhoods in Baltimore.  Credible messengers will offer violence prevention messaging, violence intervention, mental health services, youth entrepreneurship training, and case management to decrease violent crime.  The goal of the proposed project is to reduce and prevent violent crime and promote community healing.  Program activities include: completion of a needs assessment; development and implementation of a Strategic Violence Reduction Plan; ensuring meaningful engagement by residents, victims, and survivors of violence, as well es those at high risk of involvement in violent crime and criminal activity in all aspects of the program; hosting community events to encourage engagement and promote social cohesion; and ongoing program evaluation.

The Living Classrooms Foundation, Inc, has been awarded a grant of $1,950,000 to expand upon its existing programs, partnerships, and services to establish a trauma-informed Crisis Intervention Management System that will target underlying factors that contribute to violence in the East Baltimore communities of McElderry Park and Belair-Edison.  The Crisis Intervention Management System will address the immediate needs of those at highest risks of being either a victim or perpetrator of violence, including: food, housing, employment, and mental health interventions.  The program goal is to serve 150 individuals over three years and assemble a Crisis Management Team that will work with the two existing Baltimore City Safe Streets violence prevention sites located in the McElderry Park and Belair-Edison communities.   

Breaking News:  Woodstock Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

ROCA Inc. has been awarded a grant of $1,998,807 to implement and expand planning, community partnership, and services designed to increase the number of people receiving violence intervention and response services in Baltimore and its surrounding communities to create sustainable behavior change in those served and reduce community violence.  The project will restructure and expand the Baltimore Young Adult Violence Planning Committee and create a similar committee in each community served.  These committees will use local data to produce a needs assessment and a violence reduction plan for the community, which will be reviewed annually.  ROCA will also expand the use of its After Shooting Protocol, a data-driven outreach approach that, in pilot programs, has proven exceptionally impactful in engaging young people throughout Baltimore and in expansion communities.  By using this protocol, all non-fatal shootings will be reviewed daily and each identified young person will receive a door knock within 24-48 hours to connect them to services.

The resources made available under the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative will develop and expand the infrastructure needed to build community safety and strengthen neighborhoods. They will support holistic, cross-agency collaborations, seed new efforts, and fund expansion plans in both community-based organizations and local government agencies, provide funding and assistance through intermediaries to build the capacity of smaller organizations, offer technical aid to jurisdictions that do not receive federal funding and invest in research and evaluation to better understand what works to reduce violence.  The grants are jointly administered by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Office for Victims of Crime.  OJP’s National Institute of Justice will also support evaluations of projects funded under this initiative, contributing to the growing body of evidence regarding the effectiveness of violence intervention strategies.

Based on a Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis of data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, of the more than 21,500 murders known to law enforcement in 2020, more than half—56%—of the victims were between the ages of 15 and 34.  Research has shown that social factors such as income inequality, the level of trust in institutions and a lack of economic opportunities are associated with firearm-related homicide rates.  Evidence also shows that fear and the desire for physical safety, more than any criminal inclination, drive young people to carry and use firearms in the most violence-torn sections of our cities.  Community violence interventions are grounded in research and have shown a promising track record of curbing gun traffic, reducing shootings and saving lives.

The awards announced today, funded in part through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, mark a historic investment in community violence intervention programs from the Department of Justice.

These awards are being made as part of the regular end-of-fiscal year cycle.  For more information about grants under the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative, and for information about other OJP grant awards, please visit the OJP Grant Awards Page.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

# # #