Freeman: Violence reduction grants awarded locally

HARRISBURG, Jan. 13 – Two local organizations were approved this week for more than $1.1 million in grants to support projects implementing local and regional strategies to reduce violence, according to state Rep. Robert Freeman.

“This funding will help support important programs in Easton and Wilson to reduce violence. Developing strategies and programs to address the issue of violence in our communities is critical to safeguard our quality of life and ensure that all of our residents are safe,” Freeman said.

Freeman said he joined his colleagues in the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf in voting to allocate $105 million in violence reduction funding in the current state budget.

The Greater Easton Development Partnership will receive $1.1 million to support a multifaceted approach to reduce crime and establish safer routes to schools in Easton.

First, in partnership with Community Bike Works, GEDP will bring the flagship Earn a Bike mentoring program to Easton's West Ward, a location where teens were exposed to gun violence in 2022. This in-depth version of Earn a Bike will include 40 hours of small group mentoring through bike mechanics, safety and bike riding lessons for up to five students each month of the school year – primarily 9th graders who face risk factors related to violence. Once students complete the program, they will have access to year-round one-on-one mentoring, ongoing small group bike rides and leadership programs for the duration of this project. Grant funds will support project personnel; staff trainings and travel; bike equipment and other program supplies; hiring three teen program participants to serve as peer mentors; and youth participation incentives.

Second, GEDP will expand its Easton Ambassadors “Clean and Safe” program. This grant will allow the Easton Ambassadors to provide supervision of common walking corridors to Paxinosa Elementary (a United Way Community School) and will also support common walking and biking routes to bus stops for Easton Area Middle School. Funding will provide 80 additional hours per week of staffing during school commute hours and summer program hours over a 29-month grant period, thereby establishing a coordinated approach to "Safe Routes to School" in Easton's West Ward.

The Wilson Area LINCS Family Center will use its $30,000 grant to expand into an additional program area based on the evaluation of problem behaviors, gaps in current services and on other recommendations that were made. This program would build upon a previous grant that was developed in partnership to address youth risk factors and build youth protective factors. The additional programs funded by this grant will be carefully evaluated and will be tested, effective and evidence-based.

LINCS is considering implementing The Blues Program, Aggression Replacement Training, and Strengthening Families. Programs will be evaluated that will incorporate physical, emotional and mental well-being components with the goal of students gaining a sense of belonging within their community. Funds will be used for a coordinator and supplies for the chosen programs.

More information about the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency funding may be found here.