South Side community groups receive $1.2 million in grants for anti-violence efforts

Acclivus, based near the Illinois Medical District, announced $1.2 million in grant money would be doled out to groups that serve the Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Park, Washington Heights, West Pullman and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods.

SHARE South Side community groups receive $1.2 million in grants for anti-violence efforts
A 31-year-old man was fatally shot Oct. 17, 2021, in West Garfield Park.

Sun-Times file photo

A public health and anti-violence nonprofit announced Thursday it was distributing more than $1 million to various community groups on the South Side in an effort to stem the tide of shootings.

Acclivus, based near the Illinois Medical District, said $1.2 million in grant money would be doled out to several groups that serve the Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Park, Washington Heights, West Pullman and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods.

“I believe it 100% that there are Black folks — Black and Brown folks — that’s able to not only demonstrate and be an example of change, but take the role as a prime or a lead helping other grassroots organizations be exposed to this work as well,” Acclivus President and CEO LeVon Stone Sr. said Thursday.

The money was made available to Acclivus through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a state agency aimed at improving the criminal justice system through grants, research and analysis.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, the chair of the Illinois House Legislative Black Caucus, said violence reduction efforts require a multi-pronged approach to be successful.

“We all know that violence is a public health issue. And while the things that we see around us, it’s not all of our fault, it is all of our responsibility to silence the relentless drumbeat of death in our city,” Buckner said. “No one agency or program alone can solve this problem, but when we unite our efforts, we really do amplify our impact.”

One of the groups to receive grant money is The Support Group, an educational organization founded in 1989 that aims to help at-risk youth develop critical thinking and team-building skills as a way to avoid gang and drug activity.

“I can’t think of a higher calling, as our city is facing the challenges while also managing through a pandemic,” said Benny Henry, The Support Group’s founder and executive director. “We must do everything that we can to help youth at-risk. We can not accept the status quo.”

Other groups to receive grant funding include Beyond Athletics, which focuses on mental health development; the Girls Like Me Project, aimed at raising self-awareness and activism in girls who live on the South Side; and the XS Tennis and Education Foundation, an athletic and academic enrichment program.

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