Join us virtually on Tuesday, May 4, for the Community Learning Series: Working Together to Reduce Youth Violence. This free event will take place from 4:00 to 5:15 p.m. and is open to the public.
The Community Learning Series is an effort by the Community Foundation to elevate awareness, generate conversation and encourage action around issues of broad community importance. This event will focus on efforts to reduce youth violence in Cedar Rapids, particularly those that are related to the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategies that were developed by the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC).
An anonymous grant to the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) Fund has established a partnership with the NNSC to provide technical assistance and implementation guidance for these evidence-based strategies, which seek to reduce violence through coordinated and focused efforts. GVI was launched locally in fall of 2020, and all current SET Fund grantees are receiving NNSC guidance on the strategies.
Rachel Rockwell, SET Program Officer at the Community Foundation, will facilitate the May 4 discussion. “Like many communities throughout the U.S., we saw an increase in violence during the pandemic,” Rachel said. “GVI strategies have been proven in other cities and can offer hope for our youth. Cooperation among several community groups is key to success, and we’re looking to educate and partner with anyone who can contribute to these efforts.”
Panelists will offer information on local efforts, as well as success stories from other communities. The event will also provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions about GVI strategies and specific local initiatives. The panelists include:
- Isaac Hunt Jr. is a GVI Community Liaison overseeing the social services for Gary for Life, South Bend’s GVI, and South Bend SAVE (Stand Against Violence Everyday) Outreach Team. Formerly incarcerated, Isaac now coordinates activities related to gang violence, gang prevention and intervention, counseling, and mentoring. He has also established mentoring programs for gang- and group-related violence and prevention for Goodwill Industries of Michiana. Isaac is a native of Chicago and has lived in South Bend since 1970. He is a graduate of South Bend Washington High School and Indiana State University, where he majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Business Administration.
- Tony Wilson, founder and CEO of Central City Development Corporation (CCDC) and Retired Iowa Air National Guard Colonel, has committed his life to serving youth and families locally and internationally. His expertise as a career elementary educator and administrator give him a deep understanding of the current struggles families are facing. Using his expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy and research-based mental health practices, Tony works with youth and families to help them confront and mediate the impact of trauma, stress, and stressors in their lives, so that they can move forward with confidence, competence, and commitment. CCDC’s C.H.A.T. program is a current SET-funded project.
- Keeyon Carter is the Lead Pastor of Wellington Heights Community Church and Director of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Engagement Program, a SET-funded program which seeks to serve individuals who are at high-risk for violence. Keeyon is serving his second year as an at-large board member of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association and co-leads Eastern Iowa Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), a regional network of the national CCDA organization. In addition, Keeyon is enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary finalizing his degree. Keeyon is married to his wife of six years and has two young boys.
- Moderator Rachel Rockwell is Program Officer for the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Fund at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation where she works to engage nonprofit organizations, governmental bodies and community groups in identifying and implementing appropriate projects to address inter-relational factors that lead to youth violence in Cedar Rapids. Rachel has an extensive background in community, organization, and nonprofit development, serving as a business development consultant for nearly 15 years to a variety of organizations internationally.
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