Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nonprofit Awarded More Than $400,000 to Expand Gun Violence Prevention Work

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nonprofit Awarded More Than $400,000 to Expand Gun Violence Prevention Work

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS -- A local nonprofit group has been awarded more than $400,000 to expand its efforts intervening in conflicts to prevent gun violence.

The latest donation to Better Family Life was announced Monday at a news conference in downtown St. Louis attended by law enforcement officials, elected representatives and business leaders from across the region who praised the organization's range of community programs.

Better Family Life operates programs that assist in clearing vacant properties, offer treatment to drug addicts, connect residents to jobs, and make trauma counseling available to victims of violence and their families.

Better Family Life's efforts to de-escalate conflicts that have a high likelihood of turning into shootings began in 2016. A handful of staff members have de-escalated 83 conflicts since January, said James Clark, Better Family Life's vice president of community outreach.

"Together we will have a huge impact and you will see St. Louis is a safer city a year from now," said Ed Dowd, president of the St. Louis Regional Crime Commission.

The regional crime commission and Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal program, each contributed to the $416,000 donation. Most of the money will go toward hiring outreach workers -- trained employees with credibility in the neighborhoods they will work in -- who will mediate conflicts in the communities most affected by gun violence, Clark said. The donation will bring the number of outreach workers from four to eight, but Clark said the organization needs 50.

The money is on top of $200,000 that the group has received from the St. Louis Regional Business Council.

"We are at a major tipping point in the St. Louis metropolitan area right now," Clark said. "If we don't get ahold of this crisis we won't know what St. Louis will look like in the next six, seven years. …

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