NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk city leaders are taking a new approach, giving out mini-grants as part of an anti-violence campaign.
The mini-grant program is a collaboration of 10 different organizations with one goal: to prevent violent crimes.
The violence in Norfolk is causing frustration among community organizations.
“Parents are burying the children right now and it should be the other way around,” said Guns Down Movement Founder Clayton Marquez.
Marquez works in communities talking to people to prevent crimes.
“We just have to think maybe once or twice before we pull the trigger because two families are destroyed and you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in prison behind killing somebody because it’s not worth it,” Marquez continued.
Marquez’s organization is one of the 10 that got funds from the city's mini-grant program. City leaders are using about $100,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Marquez got $10,000 for his organization.
“We’re going to get 35 to 50 youth together as I said. We’re going to have youth circles. We’re going to mentor them... We’re going to take them kayaking. Some children that are successful in the program, we want all of them to be, they may get an internship at the end of the program,” said Marquez.
The Norfolk Police Foundation picked the grant recipients. The foundation’s president, Michael Barclift, said the mini-grant program’s focus is to create ways to engage the community through recreation, recovery, and healing services for anyone impacted by criminal activity.
“It’s a direct effort to get the police engaged back with the community, especially the younger folks,” said Barclift.
Marquez hopes more organizations answer the call.
“It gives us an opportunity to bring other people in to help us in this fight out here against this injustice of what’s happening because they’re holding the whole community hostage out here,” said Marquez.
City leaders said they are looking for other organizations to apply for the second round of funding. The deadline for the fall mini-grant program is on Friday before midnight.
Norfolk city leaders are also working with the Newark Community Street Team to design and create a comprehensive community violence intervention program. The team recommended this mini-grant program.