On Wednesday, April 11, local officials, mayors and city managers, community leaders, law enforcement officers, and youth gathered at the State House for Community Safety Day on the Hill. Speakers addressed a standing room-only crowd to discuss effective ways of combating youth and gang violence, to educate attendees about the importance of supporting youth violence prevention programs, and to call on the Legislature and Governor to increase funding to $10 million for the Senator Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative (Shannon Grant) and $8.9 million for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI).
The Shannon Grant was established in 2006, when the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition worked with the Legislature to allocate funding to combating youth violence, gang violence, and substance abuse through regional, multi-disciplinary efforts. The program is nationally recognized for its effective approach to deterring gang and youth violence through targeted enforcement and prevention strategies.
Funding for the grant has decreased continuously since 2006, resulting in a decrease in enforcement and prevention program implementation such as hotspot patrols and City Peace programs in youth centers. At Community Safety Day on the Hill, people directly benefiting from or connected to these programs – advocates, community leaders, law enforcement officers, youth, local officials, and mayors and city managers – gathered to share their stories, advocate for the Shannon Grant and SSYI, and visit legislators to request an increase in FY19 funding.
At the event, attendees learned that the FY19 budget only included $6 million for the Shannon Grant. Since then, Representative Adrian Madaro – who also hosted the Day on the Hill – has filed Amendment #40 to increase funding to $10 million in the House budget.
In addition to Rep. Madaro, speakers included Mayor Brian Arrigo of Revere, Secretary Daniel Bennett of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross of the Boston Police Department, Representative Aaron Vega, and Senator Joseph Boncore. Attendees also heard powerful testimonies from youth enrolled in Shannon Grant and SSYI- funded programs: Shawn Johnson of the Worcester Youth Center and Samuel Jean-Francois of Teen Empowerment Somerville. Their stories highlighted why these programs are so important to the youth, law enforcement, and their communities.
Click through the slideshow above to see photos from the Day on the Hill! Check out the one-pager below to learn more about the Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative and Metro Mayors Coalition: