Harrisburg, Pa. − April 30, 2019 − Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. announced today that the Pennsylvania School Safety and Security Fund awarded $350,000 to the Community Empowerment Association, Inc. to fund its work in violence prevention and the treatment of trauma.

“Violence is a comprehensive problem in our communities and it requires a comprehensive solution. That’s why I was proud to recommend Community Empowerment Association because I know their long history of work in this space,” said Senator Costa. “I’m impressed by the plans CEA has for assessment and addressing the prevention of violence, but also treating its effects and traumas when it does happen. We know that we cannot eradicate violence, and it’s important that we care for victims too.”

Through its initiative, CEA will conduct a comprehensive evaluation and assessment that will help disclose the strengths of the youth and families as well as adverse childhood experiences that are identified. CEA focuses its intervention and prevention strategies using a strength-based approach, utilizing the principles of trauma informed care, respected culturally appropriateness, trust and empowerment.

This project intends to teach participants how to cope with historically painful and strained experiences; implement a Multi-Media Training regarding undesirable impact of violence and how to help avert or stop violence; incorporate the Public Health approach in order to significantly improve the relationship between families, residents and the local police force; complete Community Education Forums and Focus Groups, which extends the community-wide collaborative relationships for violence prevention among families, residents and the police.

This project also intends to implement family engagement efforts and persuade participants to go beyond accumulation of knowledge and understanding to subsequent active engagement in violence prevention task; and will conduct a Community Wide Summit which will generate a resident group consented action plan for decreasing violence in the community, homes and schools.

This project will reach at least 5,000 individuals and families, with a special focus on low-income, marginalized communities – East Liberty, Lincoln-Lemington, Garfield, Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, Braddock, Rankin and McKeesport areas of the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

“Last year, we in state government decided that had seen enough violence in our schools and communities and created a grant program for schools and organizations to make their facilities and neighborhoods safer,” said Senator Costa. “Our community stepped up and submitted worthy applications for these grants to reduce violence and I’m anxious to see their work brought to fruition.”

Act 44 of 2018 created a School Safety and Security Fund for the purposes of providing funding to school districts for school safety and security concerns and addressing community violence.  $60 million was put into the fund with $7.5 million for community anti-violence programs and the remaining 52.5 million for school safety.