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Next for Cure Violence in Peoria: partner with a community organization

 Program Specialist Demeatreas Whatley explains the public education campaigns portion of the Cure Violence program at Monday's Cure Violence 101 meeting at the Peoria Public Library.
Collin Schopp
Program specialist Demeatreas Whatley explains the public education campaigns portion of the Cure Violence program at an October Cure Violence 101 meeting at the Peoria Public Library.

The next step for the Cure Violence program in Peoria: find a community based organization to partner with the violence prevention group and the Peoria City/County Health Department.

Representatives from about a dozen local groups, including organizations like House of Hope, Peoria Friendship House and Elite Community Outreach, attended a pre-bid meeting at the health department Thursday morning to learn more about the application process.

“I think we had a great turnout today, a lot of great questions about how, you know, they can see themselves in this role and the work that they're doing,” said health department administrator Monica Hendrickson. “I'm very excited about what we're seeing, I think we're going to have some great candidates.”

The applications are due by Feb. 28.

Tentatively, Hendrickson said a panel of local representatives, including residents of the East Bluff area, will review the applications and choose a partnering organization. Applications will have to include sample budgets, organizational structures, a cover letter and letters of support for the group, among other general information.

The chosen group also will need a physical, brick-and-mortar location in the East Bluff area outlined by Cure Violence. However, Hendrickson pointed out that a location could be rented as part of the program’s funding.

“Their brick-and-mortar is throughout the community, but doesn't mean they don't have a presence, or a trusted individual in that space,” she said. “So, a community-based organization that does work, is considered reliable and has a trust capital, all that in that area, they can definitely apply.”

Hendrickson is also encouraging organizations to potentially partner for their applications, filling in the gaps of what one group or the other can provide. She gives the hypothetical example of one group that’s proficient in the fiscal work of nonprofits partnering with a second group that’s more experienced with “boots on the ground” outreach work.

“So together, that's a stronger candidate, and so I highly encourage it,” she said. “Because we should not be preventing this program just because it's not fit perfectly by one single entity. I think that's unrealistic. And I think we should look at it as an opportunity to engage with other entities.”

Interested organizations can turn in their applications to purchasing director Jim Smith at the Peoria County Courthouse, or they can mail the documents. Hendrickson also encouraged individuals interested in being violence interrupters or outreach workers to continue emailing or calling the health department.

In addition to the application information, Hendrickson shared some updates on future plans for the program. One question is sustainability, or how the program will continue past its first year. Hendrickson said the health department will be working closely with the chosen community organization to assist with grant writing and funding applications.

At the same time, Hendrickson said the program will be working to get a second site of operation set up on Peoria’s south side. Cure Violence had identified both the East Bluff and south side areas as possible locations for implementation early on, but ended up deciding to start in the East Bluff for data-driven reasons.

“The release of the East Bluff RFP is not a commentary on East Bluff versus south side,” said Hendrickson. “It's more of a commentary that we had to start. This was a new experience for not only the health department, but the community as a whole. And we have to kind of work through the process.”

Hendrickson estimated the health department and Cure Violence will be searching for a second organization to establish in southern Peoria in the next six to nine months.

You can find more information, including the full Cure Violence Readiness Assessment for Peoria, at the Peoria City/County Health Department’s website here.

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