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R3 program brings marijuana tax revenue to Peoria nonprofits

Jehan Gordon Booth R3 Press Conference.jpg
Collin Schopp
/
WCBU
State Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth, left, introduces various Peoria nonprofits that are receiving grants through the R3 program.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants are coming to Peoria nonprofits from federal funds generated by the sale of marijuana.

At a press conference Tuesday, State Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth, D-Peoria, introduced some of the organizations receiving funds as part of the R3, or Restore, Reinvest, and Renew, program. The program aims to direct resources generated by marijuana tax revenue to some of the communities most impacted by the enforcement of former laws.

Booth said that over the past two years, more than $6 million has been collected from the tax.

One of the nonprofits receiving a grant is Artists Reenvisioning Tomorrow, Inc. The organization, also known as ART, Inc., will be putting its $600,000 grant toward a program to recruit teens to host activities as positive role models in their community.

“We have employed approximately 30 youth ages 15 to 24, to work on an initiative called Change That Narrative,” said Nikki Romain, co-founder and executive director of Art, Inc. “We will be doing podcasts, we’ll be doing teen summits. They also help with our art, science and leadership academy.”

Change That Narrative also will include a widespread marketing campaign. According to co-founder and assistant director Jonathon Romain, the messages will be spread across television, radio, and public art installations like murals. The messages will work to counter destructive narratives built around issues like misogyny and violence.

“When people were flying through windshields and dying from car accidents and they wanted people to wear seat belts, they came up with a massive marketing campaign to sell that concept,” said Romain. “So, we’re coming up with massive marketing campaigns hitting every angle, just like the government would on any of these things. But we want to target things that go on in inner city America.”

Another nonprofit receiving a grant is the Total Life Centers that Bishop Timothy Criss said will use a $300,000 grant to fund a residential youth program in the building at the corner of Jefferson and Olive streets.

“We are planning to take boys between the ages of 12 and 15, before they get to the Department of Corrections,” said Criss. “And we intend to house them, educate them, feed them, and also offer them employment opportunities all under the same roof.”

Other nonprofits present at the meeting included Heaven’s View Community Development Corporation that is using its grant to build a program that trains people for careers in green energy, and Peoria Public Schools tht received grants in a previous round of awards.

You can find more information about the R3 program and a full list of grant recipients here.

The grants are one part of the ways that the R3 initiative hopes to make marijuana legislation equitable. The other two major parts of the program are increasing diversity among license holders for cannabis businesses and wiping marijuana related convictions from criminal records.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.