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A Strategic, Community-Driven Approach to Addressing Gun Violence in Columbia, SC

Award Information

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Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $964,480)

Applicant Name: Serve & Connect

Project Title: A Strategic, Community-Driven Approach to Addressing Gun Violence in Columbia, SC

We prpose a strategic, community-driven approach to gun violence reduction in Columbia, SC. This place-based effort will focus on Columbia’s 29203 zip-code which accounts for nearly 50% of all person hit shootings in the city. The area, known as “North Columbia”, also encompasses Columbia’s most impoverished neighborhoods where a third of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The proposed service area is a federally Qualified Opportunity Zone, is not currently a Choice Neighborhood site, or a Promise Neighborhood location.  The area is also currently not the recipient of a Promising Safe Neighborhoods grant. 

This project is led by Columbia-based nonprofit, Serve & Connect (S&C) in collaboration with numerous law enforcement and community partners, including the Columbia Police Department (CPD), City of Columbia Parks & Recreation Department, US Attorney’s Office, Richland One School District, City of Columbia Government, and residents living in the target community. 

Data, including objective crime data, community surveys, and listening sessions with residents, will be utilized ongoing to confirm hot spots and identify crime drivers as well as monitor project performance. 

Through this grant, we seek to reduce gun violence by 50% in the target neighborhoods. We will accomplish this by preventing engagement in criminal activity among the highest risk youth and shifting community norms to emphasize trust, collaboration, and empowerment. Our approach will align with ongoing enforcenment and deterrence efforts while addressing critical gaps to create a sustainable, community-driven approach to disruptng generations of crime in North Columbia. 

The proposed project is informed by evidence-based strategies, including the proven Community Violence Intervention model, Cure Violence. Guided by Cure Violence, we will: identify and interrupt conflict among youth by hiring street outreach workers who are trusted messengers in the community; redirect the highest risk youth towards positive outcomes by connecting them with local supports, mentors, and experiences via our Transitions Program and offering positive programming to youth living in the target neighborhood, including a school-based empowerment program and launching the Police Athletic League to create positive nonenforcement interactions between police and youth; and a comprehensive community empowerment strategy that involves strategic marketing and diverse tactics to shift community norms related to violence. 

To lead the poject, we will hire a full-time project manager who will be supervised by S&C leadership. 

To support this project, Serve & Connect will leverage existing resources and partnerships for ultimate success of the initiative. This includes organizational oversight from our Board of Directors and existing partnerships to further goals of the project. Other funding sources will serve as the primary funding stream for our Compassionate Acts Program, which we anticipate a continued large impact in the service area.

Date Created: December 13, 2021