FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Acenda awarded $1.5 million grant to reduce gun crimes and other serious acts of violence
Glassboro, NJ (October 17, 2022) – The Department of Justice announced grant awards totaling $100 million to help communities across the U.S. reduce gun crime and other serious acts of violence. Acenda Integrated Health was awarded $1.5 million, the only organization chosen in NJ, and will use the funding to directly support community violence intervention efforts. The funding comes from the Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative.
Data from the Bureau of Justice statics show that in 2020, out of 21,500 murders that law enforcement was aware of, more than half of the victims were between the ages of 15 and 34. Evidence has shown that young people are carrying and using firearms due to fear and self-protection. Social factors such as low income and the lack of trust in institutions are also related to homicides involving firearms. Research has shown that community violence interventions have been able to deter gun traffic and reduce shootings.
Daniel Semenza, Assistant Professor from the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice with Rutgers University states, “The New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center is looking forward to working alongside Acenda Integrated Health and community partners in this important coalition to reduce gun violence in rural communities in Southern New Jersey. We are committed to developing an evidence-based, community-centric, and equity-focused set of interventions that can support communities disproportionately exposed to gun violence. This is a unique partnership that combines academic, healthcare, and local community expertise and we are very excited to begin the work with support from the Department of Justice.”
Acenda Integrated Health will convene a tri-county gun violence intervention and prevention coalition which utilizes credible messengers, multi-sector partnerships and data-driven strategies to address the unique safety needs of rural communities in Southern New Jersey. This essential funding will focus on Penns Grove (Salem County), Salem City (Salem County), Paulsboro (Gloucester County), Bridgeton (Cumberland County), Millville (Cumberland County), and Vineland (Cumberland County). The proposed model is intended to supplement existing gun violence prevention and intervention programming within the identified counties.
“Gun violence is one of the leading causes of premature deaths in the U.S. and rural communities are experiencing some of the most significant impacts,” states Melissa Fox, Chief Operating Officer with Acenda. “Acenda looks forward to partnering with the Rutgers Gun Violence Research Center and Cure Violence Global, along with local health leadership, community organizations, and law enforcement to supplement existing initiatives focused on reducing violence in several South Jersey communities.”
For purposes of the initiative, partners will include local public health officials, hospital leadership, social justice organizations, and law enforcement. Additionally, Acenda will subcontract with three key entities in order to meet the timeline, goals and deliverables of the CVIPI. These entities include Cure Violence Global; Rutgers NJ Gun Violence Research Center; and Life Worth Living.
John Fuqua, Founder, Life Worth Living, said “We are excited! Areas like Paulsboro and Penns Grove will most certainly benefit with our organizations placing resources there to help stem the tide of gun violence.”
The Community Violence Intervention and Prevention initiative will provide resources that will help build and grow the framework to make neighborhoods safer and stronger.
About Acenda Integrated Health
Acenda Integrated Health is a nonprofit organization dedicated to industry-leading prevention, treatment and wellness services compassionately delivered to ensure that every individual, family and community achieves their greatest potential. Acenda is at the forefront of community-based services, providing over 100 health and social service programs at 60+ locations throughout New Jersey. For more information, visit acendahealth.org.