Fayetteville is set to start a grant program next month that aims to reduce the city’s crime rate.

Police Chief Gina Hawkins and Chris Cauley, the city’s economic and community development director, presented the City Council with plans for the program, known as the Community Safety Microgrant, on Monday.

Last fall, the council approved $250,000 to go toward the program, to be distributed in four cycles over the next two years, amid concerns of increasing violent crime in the city.

Violent crimes in Fayetteville increased last year as part of a national trend, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

The grant program was inspired by a similar program in Charlotte, Hawkins said.

“Charlotte had ideas of not just community involvement, violence and intervention, but they had microgrant programs as well,” she said. “We wanted to figure out how we could bring it here.”

Any eligible nonprofit organization or individual with an idea for community crime reduction that needs funding can apply for the program.

Council member Shakeyla Ingram showed support for the program at Monday’s meeting.

“Though there is a police effort, there also is a community side as well,” she said. “I believe if we really want to attack or address violent crime, the community has to do with itself.”

Applications for the program start May 2, and the deadline for submission is May 29.

How the program works
The program is limited to any individual or nonprofit organization that has an operating budget of less than $100,000. For-profit businesses cannot participate in the program.

Accepted applicants will be limited to those who pitch an idea that can be shown to limit community crime, which will be gauged through a scoring system. The details of that scoring criteria will be determined in a future council meeting.

All ideas for crime reduction will be considered though, Hawkins said.

“Education, empowerment, history of their community,” she said. “It even talks about family stability. But we’re not just limited to these criteria. When people are having an idea of it, these are just going to give a little bit more weight when the scoring comes up.”

In each of the four grant cycles, the city has allocated $50,000. Among that funding, three payment tiers are available for each applicant — up to $1,500, $2,500 and $5,000.

While nonprofits are eligible for the $5,000 tier from the outset, individuals must go through the other two tiers first.

As individuals progress through the tiers, the city will conduct classes that teach them how to organize and operate a nonprofit organization. The final $5,000 tier requires the grantees to be a nonprofit or be fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit.

“The nonprofit is a high barrier,” Cauley said. “That it is an IRS tax designation. Paperwork, you have to have an accountant and you’ve got to have an audit.”

Describing the classes, Cauley said, “We talk about the board composition and fundraising and the organizational development part of it. And then ultimately, we talk about the longevity and how you help your nonprofit continue year over year.”

Classes are a part of each six-month cycle. That cycle includes the first month when application vetting takes place. For the next four months, the program is implemented, and in the last, grantees report back with results.

In response to concerns from Mayor Mitch Colvin about the ability to adequately measure the success of the program, Hawkins said determining that isn’t entirely dependent on hard results.

“We know, it’s difficult to say,” she said. “The bottom line, if you got youth involved in your community, doing something different, that’s success.”

The council will appoint a committee to determine which applications are accepted.

Options on how to comprise that committee will be presented to the council in the next few weeks.

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