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Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission introduces ‘mini-grants’ to combat shootings among kids, teens

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 4:24 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - All too often this year the Star City has been lit up in red and blue as first responders are called to yet another shooting.

The latest crime statistics from the Roanoke Police Dept. show six homicides and 15 aggravated assaults in 2021.

“We’ve had 21 incidents of gun violence, year to date, compared to 18 at the same time last year,” said Alicia Morrison, RPD’s senior crime analyst.

That uptick is due mostly in part to four additional murders.

“All of the offenders are between the ages of 11 and 25, youth and young adults, which is why our prevention and intervention efforts are so critical,” said city councilor Joe Cobb, who serves on the city’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

He addressed that group Friday, just weeks after a 15-year-old shot and killed another teen near 30th Street and Salem Turnpike NW.

“When one person is injured or killed by violence, it impacts all of us,” said Cobb. “The more we recognize that as a city as a whole, the better we can create responses.”

Preventing that violence is what the commission is working to do -- now moving from its planning phase into implementation.

Its first step is offering $65,000-worth of so-called ‘mini grants’ in the amounts of $3-5,000 for non-profits working to steer kids away from gangs and guns.

“Activities may include: mentoring and sponsoring, education, training opportunities that may include conflict resolution, trauma-informed work, or youth employment, scholarships, youth employment programs and events,” explained Cobb.

The non-profits have until Friday, May 21, to apply. The money must be used to implement new programs by the end of August.

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