Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Initiative (2012 – 2016)
In September 2012, Mt. Vernon Manor was awarded a Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant of $599,982 to address critical crime and safety issues in the neighborhood. The program, a component of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), addresses crime hot spots in Mantua, youth crime prevention, intervention services and improvements in the built environment.
The Mantua BCJI collaborative has built and maintained valuable partnerships for the planning and implementation of various public safety initiatives. Under Mt. Vernon Manor CDC’s lead, partners have collaborated to identify and carry out evidence-based strategies to address crime in multiple hot spots throughout Mantua. Our initiatives have included:
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
To target a crime hotspot at 34th and Haverford Avenue, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC led a CPTED project to stabilize the corner. By engaging the community and store owner on the block and recruiting volunteer artists and Lowe’s employees, the intersection was beautified and made safer. 911 calls in the area dropped 65% and arrests went down to 0.
Police and Community Trust-Building
In partnership with the National Coalition-Building Institute and the Philadelphia Police Department’s 16th Police District, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC hosted a series of Police and Community Workshops to build trust and relationships in an effort to increase safety and accountability. At the end of 2016, nineteen Mantua residents and police officers also participated in an intensive 3-day “Train the Trainer Program” to gain the skills for leading future trainings in the community.
During the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mt. Vernon Manor CDC’s Block-by-Block Coordinators Lorraine Gomez and Jenny Chen engaged existing and new block leaders, building their leadership capacity to better address concerns and connect neighbors to resources. In Mantua, a network of over 90 block leaders has collectively shared valuable information with neighbors, organized anti-violence rallies, participated in community trainings, cleaned up blocks, initiated beautification projects, and connected with home repair resources.
Mt. Vernon Manor’s work under the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation award led to the White House’s recognition of Mantua as a HUD Promise Zone in 2014 — one of only five communities in the country designated in the launch of the 10-year federal program.