GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Grand Rapids faces its highest homicide rate since 2013, a city task force is turning to the community for ideas it can fund to curb the violence.
So far, 14 people’s deaths in Grand Rapids have been deemed homicides this year. It’s a number that doesn’t sit well with 3rd Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear.
“One homicide is too many,” she said.
Lenear is also the chairperson of Grand Rapids’ Safe Alliances for Everyone Taskforce. The group formed a few years ago to address violence in Grand Rapids, especially among teenagers and young adults.
“What we’ve done is we’ve put together a comprehensive plan to address violence in our city,” she explained.
>>PDF: SAFE Final Report
This year for the first time, the city has set aside funding for the task force. Tuesday, some of that funding will be awarded to those who come up with the best idea to cut down on crime, during the SAFE Taskforce’s inaugural pitch night.
“It’s a presentation to say, ‘This is my idea. This is how much it’ll cost. This is how many 16-, 15- through 24-year-olds who will be impacted by it,” explained Lenear.
A total of 23 nonprofit groups and people have registered to share their ideas during pitch night. Each applicant will have five minutes for their presentation.
A panel of judges will whittle down the entries and award funding to no more than three organizations and three individuals. The winning nonprofit group or groups will get $5,000 each and the individuals will get $500 each to implement their proposals.
Lenear has high hopes for the new program.
“It isn’t just for the police department to address violence. All of us can get involved and make a difference,” she said. “All hands on deck will address violence in the best way.”
Registration for pitch night is closed, but the event is open to the public. It runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Beacon Hill Community House’s auditorium, located at 1919 Boston Street SE.