BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced $210,000 has been awarded in federal funding to three community based organizations for implementation of the Commonwealth’s Promoting Engagement, Acceptance and Community Empowerment (PEACE) Project.
The project’s goal is to use a public health approach to prevent violence and extremism, including prevention of crimes motivated by prejudice. The Massachusetts PEACE Project is supported by a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Funds will support social networks that promote inclusiveness of all cultural and social groups, adoption of healthy behaviors, greater access to health services, raising awareness of human rights, promoting self-esteem and mutual respect, integration of cultural identity, employment opportunity and access to democratic means for negotiating needs and opinions.
“Massachusetts has a track record of promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity; these initiatives strengthen our efforts via the aptly named PEACE Project,” said the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. “The innovative strategies proposed by the three awardees will help to prevent violence and increase acceptance.”
“We were very pleased to learn about the grant strategies that Secretary Sudders plans to fund through the PEACE Project which we hope will eventually serve as national and international models,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Secretary Sudders and her staff are blazing a trail and should be commended for their willingness to utilize a public health model to prevent violent extremism and violence motivated by hate.”
The three Boston-based grantees – Empower Peace, Somali Development Center, and United Somali Youth – were chosen from four applicants. The 10-month grants range from $42,000 to $105,000. Grant awards are contingent on successful contract negotiations with EOHHS.
Empower Peace will outreach to high schools and work with students to develop social media strategies and campaigns to promote tolerance and acceptance, and will offer a one day academy on social media and messaging related to violence prevention.
Somali Development Center will convene local Somali leaders to promote economic development, community engagement, and social adaptation and cohesion. The Center will focus on the prevention of harmful cultural practices, the development of women and girls, and opportunities for immigrant and refugee youth.
United Somali Youth will work with Somali and other African and Middle Eastern youth in the Greater Boston area to help build academic, social, athletic and critical life skills. The organization will offer afterschool programs, counseling, college readiness assistance, extracurricular activities and community events.
The organizations funded by the PEACE Project were selected following an open, competitive procurement process. Prior to releasing the grant application, EOHHS met with community stakeholders participating in the Greater Boston Regional Collaborative (the Collaborative), a group advising the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding countering violent extremism. The Collaborative’s membership included over 50 representatives from non-profit agencies, faith-based organizations, academia, advocacy organizations and government. These meetings informed EOHHS about prior and current community concerns, needs and suggestions. In the spring of 2016, EOHHS released a “Request for Information” soliciting public input regarding the design and implementation of the program. Several community and advocacy organizations responded. This information was used to develop the funding application issued in August of 2016.
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