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Wisconsin communities, organizations receive grants for violence prevention

By Mary Jo Ola,


More than $10 million in federal grant money will help nearly a dozen communities and organizations in Wisconsin develop programs to tackle violence since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Tony Evers allocated the Wisconsin Community Safety Fund from a pool of American Rescue Plan Act money to address the increased levels of violence.

The Alma Center, based in Milwaukee, is among the recipients. The group works in the field of domestic violence, specifically using trauma resolution and healing strategies to address those committing the harm.

"The people we work with are most often men and they’re little boys who have grown up with a lot of pain and trauma themselves. So, we take an approach that is about understanding where this is coming from and working in a process of actual transformation change because we know people are still going to be fathers. They’re still gonna be in relationships and are still going to be our community members," said Terri Strodthoff, founder and executive director of The Alma Center.

The grant will help them expand their services statewide using online platforms.

"Many of us have heard the statement, 'Hurt people hurt people.' That's really what we're working with so we're trying to resolve the pain that they are themselves carrying so they're not continuing to transfer that out to the next generation of people," Strodthoff explained.

Other grant-funded efforts include programs for youth employment in Kenosha hit hard by protest, as well as, a violence interruption initiative in Racine.

The meeting at MCW came on the heels of a violent night in Milwaukee. Three people lost their lives in separate shootings over five hours on Monday.

Two men in their 20s and a 45-year-old woman were killed.

MCW will offer support for the projects over the next 3 years.

"It's not just isolated to Milwaukee when we look at the inner connectedness between domestic violence, suicide, and firearm access, they're all interconnected, so this a fund is a way to again take a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this," said Reggie Moore, director of community safety for the Comprehensive Injury Center at MCW.

The 10 communities selected for funding include:

• The Alma Center based in Milwaukee will design a statewide online and telephone intervention and prevention program called Breaking the Cycle to engage people at risk of, or who have a history of, causing harm to their intimate partner and/or family.

• The City of Green Bay will create an Office of Violence Prevention to increase community safety using stakeholder collaboration, resource coordination, community engagement, and community violence intervention strategies to address increased gun violence.

• The City of Kenosha will establish the Key Emerging Leaders Academy to engage youth at highest risk for experiencing or engaging in community violence by increasing access to experiences that develop talents, life skills, and mentor relationships historically absent in six central neighborhoods.

• The City of Racine will establish a citywide Office of Violence Prevention, contract with national partners, engage local stakeholders, and develop a gun violence intervention plan with a focus on youth and developed based on community input and trends.

• Gundersen Health System will expand its Crime Victim Services (CVS) unit to address increasingly complex needs related to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and gender-based violence since the pandemic; adding CVS advocates; investing in partnerships; and increasing capacity for culturally responsive and equitable care in a six-county service area.

• Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin will increase coordination to expand prevention, education, and outreach strategies to specific priority-populations to increase community safety and prevent sexual assault, gender-based violence, and child abuse.

• The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin will expand services that prevent and respond to sexual assault using culturally specific approaches such as “Inga-dabinawe’aag” and “Ing-azhe-ganoodaan,” and outreach through cultural settings to youth, adults, and tribal community.

• Southeast Asian Healing Center (SEAHC) based in Madison will address increased suicide risk and gender-based violence due to the pandemic using culturally specific strategies in Southeast Asian communities including education, prevention, and therapy with the goal of increasing overall community wellbeing.

• The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority will expand their hospital-linked Violence Intervention Program; formalize a partnership with community partner, Focused Interruption; and conduct a gun violence analysis to identify strategies to address prevention, reduction, and response to gun violence.

• The United Way of the Fox Cities’ March Forward project is a sustainable and culturally specific model to improve community wellbeing by addressing unmet mental/emotional needs and suicide risk factors in the Hmong, Black, and Hispanic/Latinx communities by creating Community Health Workers, a dedicated peer support phoneline, and mental health literacy and anti-stigma education campaigns.

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