Some Rochester-based grassroots organizations are calling on the Mayor to re-think where grant money is being allocated. The City says it has committed $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help programs combat violence through the Rochester Peace Collective, but organizations like the FACTS Youth Program didn’t get approved.
“Rochester is small and a lot of the grassroots organizations know each other,” said Antonia Wynter, Owner and Founder of the FACTS Youth Program. Its purpose is to educate young people about financial literacy, agriculture and nutrition, communication, trades and STEM programs. “We didn’t see that money allocated to the places where we feel like it can be best utilized for the people who are literally hands-on with the youth.”
Wynter said her organization tries to connect with children who have lost their parents to violence, or whose parents are incarcerated.
“For the people who are working 365 days toward the reduction of gun violence and to make sure we have safe places for youth, those are the places where we feel should have been getting that money,” she added.
Wynter wasn’t sure why Planned Parenthood was chosen as a recipient .
“Planned Parenthood, regardless of what side you’re on for abortion, they’re not an organization that pushes in to schools to talk about family planning or abstinence,” Wynter said. “We’re not confident that they will be able to navigate into the city and into the urban areas to do what we are doing.”
FingerLakes1.com reached out to Mayor Malik D. Evans and received the following statement:
”The Rochester Peace Collective represents one of several violence prevention initiatives and collaborations the City is leading to address the root causes of violence in our community.
To launch the Peace Collective, the City allocated $5 million in ARPA funding and distributed an RFP seeking proposals from local anti-violence programs. In response, the City received proposals from 68 organizations asking for $34 million in funding. The City conducted a thoughtful and thorough assessment of applications to identify the 20 charter members of the Peace Collective.
Some community members have had questions about the City’s approach and the organizations that will be funded in the first round of funding.
One of the 20 programs that the Peace Collective will fund, the In Control Program, has been in our community for more than 25 years and is supported and utilized by many organizations and schools in our community. Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York oversees the In Control program.
The In Control Program is slated to receive $225,000 from this year’s Peace Collective allocation to help teens of color in Rochester reject violence by learning valuable skills to overcome systemic racism and engage in positive behaviors.
I am grateful to all of the organizations that submitted proposals to participate in the Rochester Peace Collective and strongly encourage those that were not selected in the initial round to maintain their interest in this program and continue their with their own important work to promote peace in our city. It is my goal to continue to develop and expand the Peace Collective with new membership as we seek additional support from the philanthropic sector.
The Mayor’s Office of Violence Prevention, which will provide administrative support for the Peace Collective, stands ready to answer any questions from community partners regarding the ongoing development of the Rochester Peace Collective.”
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].