NEW YORK (AP) — It was small, as Washington celebrations go — two senior Biden administration advisers gathered with program participants near the White House on a Thursday afternoon in December to mark the end of a little-known initiative with a budget of less than $8 million.
The impact of The Community Violence Intervention Collaborative (CVIC), though, may yet be larger, both in the fight to slow the growth of gun violence and in the way philanthropy and government work together. The Biden administration used CVIC to get public funding to fight gun violence to 50 grassroots organizations that would normally be too small to get federal funding directly, as well as training and other support for 18 months to prepare them to receive even more funding.
It’s an effort some participants applauded, while others argued the president could have backed it more forcefully.
There was a feeling of momentum at the CVIC celebration, said Nancy Fishman, director at the Schusterman Family Philanthropies, toward what she and other advocates hope is the beginning of a shift in governmental approaches public safety. And it went beyond the attendance of nonprofit leaders, whose workers often go without recognition or pay, in a “rarefied space with others being celebrated,” she said.
Daamin X Durden, executive director of the Newark Community Street Team, called it surreal “to be with one another, to hear the testimony and the journey experience and just to share that camaraderie and fidelity for one another.”
On top of that, each of the 50 community violence interruption organizations at the celebration in the office building across from the White House also received $20,000, as a final “mini-grant,” which Durden said was much appreciated because it came with few strings attached.
A nonprofit, Hyphen, coordinated the initiative, which included peer exchanges, training and mentorship, provided by five national nonprofits.
Aqeela Sherrills, the advisor for the initiative at Hyphen, thinks many more officials and communities now understand violence interruption is a compliment to policing, not a strategy that is anti-police.
“We’re not expecting our cops will be everything, to be teachers, lawyers, therapists and counselors,” he said.