CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For the last two years, the city of Charlotte has been providing grant money to small organizations to help take a ‘holistic look’ at community safety.
In the first year, the city budget funded the Jump Start Micro grant with $50,000. That amount increased to $100,000. in the second year.
In the upcoming fiscal year, the grant will have $500,000. to distribute.
“I think that we need to find more groups to apply and groups that actually have experience working in our neighborhoods and actually have experience working on crime reduction and violence,” said Robert Dawkins of Safe Coalition N.C. “What I saw from the list of Jump Start programs before is a lot of the people that received the money are well-intentioned but didn’t have a lot of experience working in our communities.”
City officials say the grant helps organizations not big enough to get significant grants. By distributing the money to groups focused in different areas - such as crime prevention, early intervention, arts and computer coding - they say they’re taking a look at every aspect that can make communities safer.
The themes of the grant include community empowerment and family stability. Groups are asked to write a proposal under a theme.
The city says Jump Start also helped organization learn capacity building.
But, Dawkins believes the micro grant project should keep its eyes squarely on anti-violence as the city’s homicide number climbs.
“I need to worry about people that’s going to be at the corners of LaSalle, going to be up in Hidden Valley at 11 o’clock at night that know that there’s going to be a problem and can intervene, work to make sure neighborhoods are well lit, that convenience stores don’t have people hanging out in front of them that leads to trouble, that understand that when people see a problem in a community – address it now and do it from a community aspect instead of relying on the police and that the type of funding I’m looking for – not Arts and Coding - and all of those are good things and that’s not what this money should be for,” said Dawkins.
City officials say not a lot of crime-fighting organizations applied for grants. They’re hoping more will do so for the third phase of Jump Start.