CHOP awards $225K to 9 violence-prevention groups
Kyle Morrison of the Eco Foundation (Philadelphia Tribune photo).
By Alec Larson
PHILADELPHIA — The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has announced that it will be awarding nine community-based organizations focused on violence-prevention in West and Southwest Philadelphia with a combined total of $225,000 in grant funding as part of its Healthier Together program.
The funding comes from CHOP’s Healthier Together initiative Growing Resilience in Teens (GRIT) Grant Program, an expansion of the existing GRIT program, which aims to provide “trauma support services to children and families through CHOP Primary Care and after-school programs,” according to a news release.
“It’s a grant program to support small community-based organizations that specifically deliver programs to address the root causes of gun violence, such as youth engagement, mentorship, and workforce development,” said Vanesa Karamanian, the program director of the Healthier Together Initiative.
According to Karamanian, CHOP’s GRIT program is meant to support the CDC’s recommendations that connecting children to adults and activities such as after-school programs and mentorship can be a protective factor against violence.
Karamanian said that the program is working from the perspective that supporting local nonprofits that focus on addressing violence and building stronger neighborhoods can lead to a decrease in violent crime.
“We have two specific goals for this program,” she said. “The short-term goal is to increase the capacity of these local nonprofit organizations to have positive experiences and opportunities for youth. As a long-term goal, we want to connect more youth and reduce gun violence in this specific neighborhood.”
The nine organizations chosen as the grant awardees are:
- Beloved Care Project
- Building Healthy Communities within Families
- City of Dreams Coalition
- EleganceXtreme Inc.
- Fruits of the Family Table
- Ghetto Rising Entertainment
- The ECO Foundation
- The Greater Philadelphia YMCA
To qualify for the funding, potential organizations had to have been previously awarded a City of Philadelphia Targeted Community Investment Grant, which is part of an initiative focused on addressing gun violence in communities throughout Philadelphia.
For The ECO Foundation, an organization formed in 2018 that aims to provide creative education, healthy food, and employment opportunities to those in the Philadelphia community, the grant funding from CHOP is a show of public encouragement and a motivator to keep pushing forward.
“They’ve seen the work we’ve done over the years, so by them putting their money where their mission is, it reminded me that there’s a lot of work to do. This is similar to our other funders who have supported our initiatives in the past. When someone’s rooting for you and they’re putting their money there, you have a responsibility that comes with that,” said Kyle Morris, the founder and executive director of The ECO Foundation.
Morris said that the group intends to use the funds to expand their Young BUL program, a service learning project that offers financial incentives to children and young adults who take part in educational courses and community-building activities. He added that upon receiving the news of the grant funding, the group has not spent time celebrating but instead has been motivated to keep pushing forward in their mission.
“It’s time to get to work. I didn’t really have time for celebrations or anything like that because it’s just too much going on in our neighborhood. We have a responsibility to serve, and we have a responsibility to make sure that our people are safe and they have their needs met. So with that work going on, it’s not a lot of hoorays, and it’s a whole lot more, ‘I didn’t think about that. You bought a good point. We can spend our money that way, or we can add an extra day of program, and we can do XYZ based on community feedback.’ To be honest,” Morris said.
Karamanian said she believes that the grant funding is just the next step in a much longer process that will see continued collaboration between multiple groups with the shared goal of enhancing the lives of Philadelphia’s youths.
“We’re hoping that by partnering with community groups, nonprofits and governmental agencies, we can actually learn from each other and multiply our collective impact. So at the end of the day, what we want is to improve the health of the children that we are seeing, the children that are part of our neighborhood and the families as a whole,” she said. “I’m looking forward to many, many more years of health care together so we can stay together and continue moving forward.”
Alec Larson is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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