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County council offers second year of domestic violence grants

County CouncilSEABROOK – The county council’s efforts to fight domestic violence are continuing for another year.

On July 25, the council announced its second years’ worth of appropriations for domestic violence grants, $500,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2018. The grant program seeks to support the housing, counseling and advocacy activities of local nonprofits to create a united, collaborative front against domestic violence.

“During the council’s first round of grant funding, there was a great deal of enthusiasm in our nonprofit community and we want to keep the momentum going,” said Council Chair Derrick Davis.

The fiscal year 2017 grant program awarded $500,000 to 11 nonprofits, including $66,000 to Dimensions Healthcare to help pay the salaries of a victim advocate and a domestic violence coordinator; $27,000 for the Institute for Creative Community Initiatives for a #luvinasafespace program to educate up to 36,000 high school students in Prince George’s County Public Schools about teen dating violence; and $120,000 to the Prince George’s Community College Foundation to fund the Violence Prevention Center Trauma Counseling Services Project.

Community Advocates for Family and Youth, Inc. (CAFY) was also awarded $26,044 last year to support its efforts in helping survivors access mental health services. According to Arleen Joell, founder and chief executive officer of CAFY, grants like these are important to achieving their goals.

“Grants are important because given our diverse population, even though Prince George’s County is considered a wealthy county, there are a large number of low-income and non-English-speaking residents here. And the grants allow us to provide pro-bono services for them,” Joell said.

The application period for the FY18 grants opened Tuesday and will run through Sept. 6 at 5 p.m., with a pre-proposal conference scheduled for Aug. 10. The council will announce the grant awardees on Oct. 3.

The grant program seeks to address a problem that Prince George’s has struggled with for years. According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Prince George’s County leads the state in domestic violence-related deaths. Across Maryland, 42 victims and 13 abusers died as a result of domestic violence in FY16 (July 2015 - June 2016), with 18 of those deaths occurring in Prince George’s County. The organization also determined that in FY15, the rate of domestic violence murders in the county was nearly 16 per 1 million population, the third highest level in Maryland.

County leaders in the legislative and executive branches, as well as the law enforcement sector, agree that working together and sharing their collective resources and knowledge is the most effective way to fight against the scourge of domestic violence.

“We cannot effectively address the issue of domestic violence in our communities with a silo mentality. A community working together is the only way we can work towards effectively addressing and ending domestic violence in Prince George’s County,” Davis said.

Nonprofit and business communities are also urged to get involved, and county residents are asked to speak up on behalf of their friends and neighbors when they are aware of or suspect a domestic violence situation is occurring. Help is available through the Prince George’s County’s Health Department domestic violence coordinator at 301-883-7873; the police department’s domestic violence unit at 301-772-4433, and The House of Ruth, which provides comprehensive support services to victims, via a 24-7 hotline at 410-889-7884. Always call 911 in an emergency.

Joell at CAFY said her agency and the others in the field appreciate having the county council as a partner in their efforts.

“All the non-profits in the county are very appreciative that the county council has made domestic violence a priority,” she said. “Between housing and counseling and all the other services, I’m hopeful that there will be a real impact for survivors.”

More information about the grant program, as well as application materials, is available at pgccouncil.us/dvgp.

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