- Department of Public Health
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $8 Million to 10 Local Agencies to Address Gun Violence Prevention among Youth
Ann Scales, Director of Media Relations
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $8 million to 10 community organizations to prevent and reduce gun violence and other violent crime among youth and young adults. The funding will support communities with some of the highest rates of gun violence in the Commonwealth.
“Massachusetts’ strong gun laws have helped lead to some of the lowest rates of gun violence in the nation but there is always more that we can do to keep the Commonwealth’s communities safe,” said Governor Baker. “Since taking office, our Administration has committed more than $40 million to prevent youth violence and combat gang activity in the Commonwealth and we look forward to the work these agencies will do with today’s grants in their local communities.”
“We are pleased to partner with these local initiatives in supporting communities as they strengthen their prevention efforts and help young people who are exposed to violence get back on the right track,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
In 2016, there were 245 firearm deaths in Massachusetts, of which just over a third were homicides. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for 17-24 years olds in the Commonwealth, with 63 percent of homicides due to a firearm. While Massachusetts has the lowest firearm death rate in the nation, over half of all victims of firearm-related injuries (55 percent) are between the ages of 15-24, and black youth ages 15-24 had 32 times the rate of hospitalizations due to a firearm assault compared to white youth.
“Gun violence and violent crime disproportionately affect young adults and people of color,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Understanding the risk and protective factors that contribute to gun violence allows us to target our public health interventions to make the most meaningful impact in the lives of young people.”
“Gun violence is a public health issue,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “These programs will address comprehensive social needs often connected with gun violence, including issues of housing, academic support, food access, employment, mental and behavioral health needs, and family support.”
The following 10 organizations received funding for their plans to addresses disparities in neighborhoods with higher rates of gun violence. Grant award amounts were based on each agency’s proposed program model and activities for the community being served.
- College Bound (Dorchester): $1,200,000.00
- Madison Park Development Corporation (Roxbury): $751,270.00
- More Than Words (South End Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan): $650,920.00
- Mothers for Justice and Equality (Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan): $556,360.00
- New North Citizens Council (Springfield): $800,000.00
- ROCA (Springfield): $800,000.00
- NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc. (New Bedford) $800,000.00
- Old Colony YMCA (Brockton): $850,000.00
- UTEC (Lawrence): $900,000.00
- Worcester Youth Center (Worcester): $800,000.00
“I was proud when the House originated the funding for this program – which is designed to empower communities with the resources to study and find solutions to the root causes of gun violence that disproportionately takes a toll on those living in urban neighborhoods and particularly on young people of color,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo. “I would like to thank Rep. Andy Vargas for his hard work on this program which furthers Massachusetts’ long-standing and unwavering commitment to gun safety and violence prevention.”
“We must continue to do everything we can as a Commonwealth to curb gun violence and prevent the tragic effects it has on our families and communities,” said Senate President Karen Spilka. “I applaud the investments being made today by the Administration and appreciate the proactive steps these organizations are taking to work with vulnerable populations to ensure a safe environment for our youth.”
All 10 organizations plan to promote and identify effective services to reduce gun violence and other forms of violence and incorporate support from behavioral health programs with protocols designed to reduce gun violence. Each will work with individuals at the highest risk for experiencing violence including youth of color, court-involved youth, individuals who have a substance use disorder and those who have been witness to or victims of violence. The grants complement the efforts of the Shannon Community Safety Initiative and the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, the state’s multi-faceted strategy for reducing youth violence.
To learn more about the Department of Public Health’s work to prevent and respond to injuries and violence, visit www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-violence-and-injury-prevention.