Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,000,000)
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic crime, especially violent crime, has been on a steady rise throughout New York City. In fact, crime has risen to the point of being labeled a public health concern by governmental, law enforcement, medical, and community-based organizations. With our vast experience, both professional and lived, Exodus Transitional Community (Exodus) is uniquely positioned to interrupt this violence through its Transcending through Violence initiative - which utilizes nontraditional methods, including music, to target, train and educate gang leaders and their members, getting them out of lives of crime, gangs and violence.
Through this initiative, Exodus will hire overnight community engagement and outreach workers (PEACE Brokers) to address gang and gun violence in Harlem and the South Bronx. PEACE Brokers will work from 7:00pm-3:00am mediating conflict, providing incentives, helping to maintain community areas, and increasing awareness of Exodus’ wide array of services. Through this initiative, Exodus will also formalize a Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Community Advisory Board, that will meet monthly, and consist of community stakeholders from likeminded organizations (community-based organizations, housing providers, universities, and law enforcement). Monthly meetings would be held as a forum to share information, advocate for change with city government, and contribute thoughts and ideas related to reducing levels of violence (especially gun and gang violence). Finally, Exodus will host bi-monthly Gang Summit/Community Events aimed towards improving community-police relationships.
Exodus meets all priority considerations: (1A) The Transcending through Violence Initiative promotes racial equity and the removal of barriers to access and opportunity for communities that have been historically underserved and overly incarcerated, accounting for over half of detained individuals in New York City. (1B) Exodus is a culturally-responsive organization that is led and operated by justice-impacted New Yorkers – the majority of whom are people of color. As a result, we meet people where they are at and act as Credible Messengers helping people move from crisis to stability. (2) The Transcending through Violence Initiative will serve the areas of Harlem, Northern Manhattan, and the South Bronx – all of which have experienced significant increase in violent crime over the past 2 years. (3) We have obtained 16 MOUs from a multidisciplinary team of stakeholders dedicated to reducing violence in our communities; these stakeholders make up the VIP Advisory Board.