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About the Community First-Public Safety (CFPS) City Council Fund

Our community is safer when people are cared for and connected to the resources they need. For years, countless grassroots community leaders and organizations have been doing the work of taking care of people, responding to trauma and preventing or addressing violence in St. Paul, often with little or no financial support. The City of St. Paul’s community-first public safety framework includes prioritizing deep investments in neighborhoods most impacted by historical disinvestment, and that includes taking steps to fund the existing work and expertise in our city that community holds.

Toward this end, the St. Paul City Council is announcing a new set of grants for community-based organizations engaging residents from historically under-resourced areas of the city and/or areas disproportionately impacted by gun violence. The grants will build on and complement community-first public safety investments made in the 2020 budget that funded the Community Ambassadors, Cure Violence, the Healing Streets Project, targeted youth employment, and increased after-school parks & recreation programming.

The City Council repurposed 2021 Community Organizational Partnership Program (COPP) funding in order to provide these grants to organizations that help St. Paul advance its public safety vision, as detailed in City Council Resolution RES 20-1601 that passed in November of 2020.

A total of $100,000 is available to be distributed to community organizations across St. Paul. For this first phase of the program, each grant will be approximately $20,000 to no more than $40,000 to ensure multiple organizations are able to be supported at a meaningful amount. In the future, the Council hopes to be able to increase funding and grow the number of organizations that are supported and the amount they could receive.

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2021 Awardees 

  • Love First
  • ReleaseMN8
  • Karen Organization of Minnesota
  • The JK Movement
  • Restoration Incorporated Ministries

 

Love First

Created in 2020, Love First is an organization rooted in decades of community organizing, anti-gun violence, and building up youth guided by the leadership of Chauntyll Allen.  Most recently and connected directly to this proposal— and indicative of the past years of work by Allen and volunteers — during the summer of 2020, Love First joined the efforts of Guns Down, Love Up to hold spaces in the North End and North Minneapolis to address recent gun violence deaths involving youth. Love First co-sponsored a successful march and day of restorative healing in the North End and provided on-going support to the youth stationed at Winnipeg Market on Rice Street. 

Through this opportunity, Allen will increase her work with her partners and allies to reach more youth and their families through face-to-face interaction. She will facilitate several interventions, including restorative justice debrief sessions, outreach healing events, community resource response work, and youth mentorship and outreach. In partnership and in allyship with other groups, organizers, LOVE FIRST will conduct deep outreach and engage immediately for on-the-ground issues from prevention to community response actions.

 

ReleaseMN8

ReleaseMN8 began as a campaign in August 2016 to prevent the detention and deportation of eight Cambodian Minnesotans (MN8) by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). These men were among the people fleeing the Vietnam War, many of whom were born in refugee camps and then resettled in the United States. They began life in their new homeland housed in depressed neighborhoods with high rates of violence, such as Frogtown and East Saint Paul. Immersed in disadvantages, the youths in these families became channeled into the criminal justice system, often for committing minor offenses. Because of fears of government interactions, ignorance about immigration statuses and unaffordable citizenship applications, many refugees did not seek naturalization, and subsequently, young refugees fell afoul of U.S. immigration laws as a result of their convictions. 

ReleaseMN8 will create the much-needed healing space for these youths and end the cycle of trauma and violence in our community, ReleaseMN8 seeks funding for our ReGENerate program. This pilot program will support 15 to 20 youths to learn about themselves, build interpersonal skills, and heal from trauma. The target youths will be 13-25 years old and come from Southeast Asian communities in Saint Paul, residing in neighborhoods such as Frogtown and East St. Paul. The program will include 9 sessions that meet monthly, culminating to a final retreat session in December 2021. Each session will feature a different topic of exploration, such as personal identity, trauma, family relationships, romantic relationships, domestic and gun violence. For the final retreat session, participants will be asked to design a community project that will relay to their peers one or more of the various topics they’ve explored during the program. For participants who are eager to take the next step after the end of this pilot program, we will encourage them to join our current Youth Leadership Development program, designed to teach families of impacted community members essential skills to advocate for their family and community.

 

Karen Organization of Minnesota

In 2008 Karen refugees established the Karen Organization of Minnesota. KOM has rapidly grown into a service hub for refugees and immigrants building lives in Minnesota.  Karen Organization of Minnesota is  sponsoring Asian Youth Outreach (AYO). AYO was created by Karen and Karenni community members and activist Tou SaiK Lee. AYO’s objective is to address the underlying causes of gang involvement for at-risk Asian youth through mentorship and support services. AYO members have worked for decades alongside a myriad of local organizations to address issues of poverty, abuse, addiction, and trauma. Our members include former Asian gang members, counselors, and educators, in addition to community activists, organizers, and liaisons.

CFPS funds will support KOM and AYO to implement a new peer mentorship program between Karen young adults and at-risk youth. KOM’s Youth Health Educator, Ner Mu, and AYO Co-Founder Tou SaiK Lee will coordinate training for about 8-10 youth mentors in summer 2021. Youth mentors will receive training in substance use prevention, mental health, and treatment resources for at-risk youth. (The curriculum is secular as KOM is not a faith-based organization and works with both Christian and Buddhist communities.) KOM and AYO will also bring in external trainers with expertise in youth violence prevention, restorative justice practices, and peer mentorship skills including Vandy Moua, Long Vang, and Chacho Estrada. Following training, youth mentors will meet with mentees weekly at The Urban Village in Payne-Phalen from June-December 2020. AYO staff and mentors will work to design weekly group activities and field trips along with 1:1 mentor-mentee time. Mentors will offer coaching and emotional support for at-risk youth to address challenges in their lives and create goals and plans for the future.

 

The JK Movement

The JK Movement has been in operation since 2011 and recently we have contracted with Ramsey County to provide a focus on trauma-related topics and mental health services for youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system. Their Youth Group Sessions (YGS) program was first instituted in 2015 when we facilitated programming at Boys Totem Town in St. Paul. We provided two 12-week programs which were very successful with the youth participants. We then implemented the YGS program as part of the JK Movement programming in the Ramsey County area.

The JK Movement recently acquired space in the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center. With this move to a permanent home, JKM is looking forward to expanding programming, serving more youth and developing and offering programming to participants’ families as well. The JK Movement works predominantly with youth between the ages of 12-18. They welcome all youth to participate in the program which is primarily designed for our targeted population of African American youth and other youth of color. 90% of our participants live in poverty and qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. The money provided by CFPS City Council Fund will help pay salaries for: A program coordinator – This person will oversee the general responsibilities of the JKM/YGS Program. A Team Lead facilitator – This person will assume responsibility for the educational activities such as lesson planning, communication, speakers/presenters and organizing field trips that will engage the community.

 

Restoration Incorporated Ministries 

Since 2015, Restoration Incorporated has worked in Saint Paul neighborhoods impacted by gun violence. They began this work through their Side by Side Mentoring program and their collaboration with the hospital-based violence intervention program Next Step since July 2016. Beginning in the fall of 2020, they began working with the Healing Streets project. They have responded to shootings in the St Paul neighborhoods where they have occurred. Restoration Incorporated have diligently sought out victims and their families and have provided resources and avenues for healing using our restorative justice practices and culturally competent methods.

In addition to their current work with Healing Streets Project,  they would like to expand into Regions Hospital to do hospital-based violence intervention. In this capacity, they would meet the victim at the bedside as we begin the journey of walking alongside them towards healing.his proven, evidence-based process is called "the Golden Moment": An ideal window of opportunity when they have been shot and they see their life pass before them and they realize the severity of the situation and are more susceptible to changing their lives.These funds will also be utilized to continue to provide their clients with conflict resolution training, domestic violence awareness training, anger management, job readiness skills, and one on one mentoring in order to shift the trajectory of their lives from chaos to stability

 

Last Edited: March 12, 2021