JOINT PRESS RELEASE: A coalition of community organizations celebrate $50 million investment in community-based violence prevention

December 13, 2021

A coalition of community organizations, including Stop Handgun Violence, in support of gun violence prevention applauds the Massachusetts State Legislature and Governor Baker for prioritizing community-based gun violence prevention in H.4269, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, which allocates $50 million to fund violence prevention across the Commonwealth. Included in this $50 million investment is $7.5 million in grant funding for community-based gun violence prevention programming that prioritizes communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence.

Last year, the Commonwealth saw a spike in gun violence across the state, likely exacerbated by the pandemic. Communities of color were disproportionately impacted by this increase in gun violence, mirroring the disproportionate impact COVID-19 had on communities of color. These disparities fueled this coalition to come together and advocate for gun violence prevention funding as part of the ARPA recovery funds. The coalition includes over 40 local, state, and national organizations, including those doing the frontline work of violence prevention every day.

Coalition Members offered the following comments:

“We applaud the State Legislature and Governor Baker for believing in a future without gun violence and making the necessary investments in our community to reach that goal,” said Zoe Grover, Executive Director of Stop Handgun Violence. “For over 25 years, Stop Handgun Violence has been working to eradicate gun violence in the Commonwealth. We believe this funding will be transformational to the state and are proud that Massachusetts continues to be a national leader on this issue.”

“We thank Governor Baker, Speaker Mariano, Senate President Spilka, Chairs Michlewitz and Rodrigues, and the entire Legislature for their commitment to addressing the root causes of gun violence” said Ruth Zakarin, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “We are deeply grateful to our legislative champions, Senator Creem, Representative Miranda, and Representative Vargas for their advocacy to ensure that this funding was included in the final bill. This funding will make a tangible difference for community based organizations across the state doing the grassroots work of preventing gun violence and promoting peace. We are thrilled to have played a role in securing support for community driven solutions to trauma and violence.”

“Gun violence prevention is a pillar of the work that we do at UTEC with justice-involved young adults here in the Merrimack Valley” said Gregg Croteau of UTEC, Inc. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Baker, Speaker Mariano, and Senate President Spilka, Chairs Michlewitz and Rodrigues, and the many legislative allies. During times where our nation is grappling with the abnormal effects of gun violence Massachusetts has again reasserted its leading role in how to best invest funds toward addressing this issue. On behalf of all the young adults we work alongside, we very much appreciate your commitment and leadership to continue sending the critical message that violence should never be normalized.”

“The young men and women at the center of urban violence and trauma need the strongest possible violence intervention and prevention strategies at the local, state and national level,” said Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca, Inc. a violence intervention effort operating throughout Massachusetts. “We commend Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, Speaker Mariano, all legislators and our partners who know this funding will help those most likely to shoot or be shot.”

“Today is a historic day and a huge step forward toward ending gun violence in Massachusetts,” Greg Jackson, Executive Director of Community Justice Action Fund. “With these critical investments, communities across the state now have the resources to reduce gun violence using proactive public health and community approaches, beyond the lens of crime prevention. By doing so, we can save more lives, prevent additional violence and help survivors and communities heal.”

“This investment in gun violence prevention is an important step to securing a better future for Boston. We are looking forward to seizing this opportunity to collaborate with our community partners to do the work necessary to end gang violence and urban poverty,” said Boston Uncornered co-founder and CEO Mark Culliton.

“Providing meaningful, sustainable funding to life-saving violence intervention and prevention programs is essential to combatting the gun violence epidemic in Massachusetts,” said Kristen Bauer, a volunteer with the Massachusetts chapter of Moms Demand Action.  “We thank Governor Baker for signing this significant funding bill and continuing his commitment to promoting gun safety in our state, as well as Speaker Mariano, Senate President Spilka, Chairmen Michlewitz and Rodrigues, and the rest of our Legislature for taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of Massachusetts communities and continuing to demonstrate leadership on gun safety.”

“We applaud this legislation on behalf of all our youth and families, hoping that it secures safer and brighter futures for us all,” said Dr. Aminah Pilgrim, Co-Founder & President, SABURA Youth Programs.

“We are grateful to the Massachusetts House and Senate and Governor Baker for their support of empowering programming for young people throughout the Commonwealth,” said Jodi Rosenbaum, Founder & CEO of More Than Words. “We know that opportunity and positive pathways are what we need to deter community violence, and this funding will go a long way to strengthening impactful programs all across our state.”

“Growing up in Boston during the late eighties and early nineties when there were multiple homicides,” said Donald M. Osgood Sr. “There were no grassroot agencies doing the work that’s being done today. I believe, with the ARP funds going to the ones who have dedicated their lives to this work with little to no funding, they will be able to not just continue the work, but do even greater work. Thank you again Governor Baker”

 

Full list of coalition partners:

Amnesty International USA

Black Liberation Alliance 4Change

Boston Public Health Commission

Boston Uncornered

BOTM – Brothers on the Move

Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Community Justice Action Fund

Darrell Lee Jenkins Families Of Homicide Resource Center

Everytown for Gun Safety

First Religious Society UU, Newburyport

Giffords

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence – Cape Cod

Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center

Health Resources in Action

Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action

Legendary Legacies Inc.

Louis D. Brown Peace Institute

Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

MA Communities Action Network

Moms Demand Action

More Than Words

National Association of Social Workers – MA Chapter

New North Citizens’ Council Inc.

Newton Gun Violence Prevention Collaborative

Newtown Action Alliance

NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc.

Not My Generation

Old Colony YMCA

Peace Boston

Progressive Massachusetts

Project RIGHT, Inc.

ROCA Inc.

SABURA Youth Programs, Inc.

Stop Handgun Violence

Survivors Empowered

Temple Beth Zion (TBZ) Brookline

The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention

UTEC

Violence in Boston

Worcester Youth Center

Youth Over Guns

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AMERICANS KILLED BY GUNS SINCE THE MASSACRE AT SANDY HOOK

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