Public Health Madison and Dane County announced yesterday that they will be helping to fund programs at five local organizations to help local violence prevention programs.
The funding is part of the Roadmap to Reducing Violence in Madison and Dane County, an initiative launched last year. Aurielle Smith is the Director of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation for Public Health Madison and Dane County.
She says that the initiative is a joint project between the full public health department and Violence Prevention Coalition, a subgroup of Public Health Madison Dane County.
“We’ve been working with the Violence Prevention Coalition to identify priorities for the year that the coalition wanted to work on. Related to that, we did some work analyzing the capacity of what Public Health has the capacity to do, or should be doing, what other organizations are currently doing and feel comfortable continuing, and where were our gaps in need of increases in opportunity.”
Smith says that they found five main areas that Dane County could improve in their violence prevention response.
“We have found a lot of opportunities, in terms of availability and access to data, working more with children youth and families, focusing on violence prevention support services, strengthening our neighborhoods and our ability to have strong communities, and working on our coordination and collaborative efforts with all of the organizations that contribute or work on violence prevention,” Smith says.
The five groups receiving funding are Urban Triage, the Meadowood Neighborhood Association, the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, the Dane County Multi Agency Center, or Dane MAC, and Operation Fresh Start.
Operation Fresh Start is a Madison-based non-profit organization aiming to empower young adults and give them the resources they need to succeed. Their portion of the funding will go towards two programs that will do exactly that.
Greg Markle is the executive director of Operation Fresh Start. He says that the first program will help folks with getting their high school diploma.
“We know that a high school diploma is the number one requirement for employment in Dane County. We also know that if you are employed and able to satisfy your basic needs by earning money, you are much less likely to engage in violence in the community,” Markle says.
The second program aims to help people after they have their diplomas.
“The other program is called Careerscape, which is working with school districts and young people as they complete high school to have a soft hand-off and transition into a career, jobs, and employment. So specifically those young people age 18-21 who are not heading onto post-secondary education, there are opportunities for engaging in career-oriented employment,” Markle says.
Urban Triage will be using their funding to help support Black families and youth in Dane County. That will come in the form of a new initiative to help younger folk either aging out of foster care or re-entering society after incarceration learn job development skills, receive rental assistance and trauma recovery, and receive individual support.
Some funding will go towards supporting victims of violence. The Dane County DA’s Office will receive funding to provide a Bluetooth panic button for victims of violent crimes who remain at risk. When the button is pressed, it will send GPS location data to 911.
The Dane County Multi-Agency Center, or Dane MAC, is also looking to support victims of violence. Dane MAC is a non-profit organization providing resources for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Rachel Sattler is the Co-Founder and Co-President of Dane MAC. She says they will use their funding to create an online portal to help connect survivors with local resources.
“The Multi-Agency Portal, or MAP, will essentially be a platform where a survivor can upload the details of their assault so they can be preserved securely and safely. That will ensure that they won’t have to repeat it every time they communicate with someone and tell them what happened. Then they will be able to learn about the resources that are available in our community, help to get guidance to find out what resources might be for them in that moment, and then actually connect through this portal to community resources who are partnering with us,” Sattler says.
The final organization receiving funding through this program is the Meadowood Neighborhood Association, who will use their funds to provide resources such as housing and food to people in need. They will also help to refer people to health and social services in our community.
In all, Public Health Madison and Dane County is awarding $300,000 in funds to the organizations, to be available to them on August 1st. Aurielle Smith says that they intend to award more funds to organizations for violence prevention in the coming years as part of their Roadmap to Reducing Violence initiative.
Photo courtesy: Chali Pittman / WORT Flickr