Supporting youth community activities can deter gun violence


This year has been emotional and tragic for so many families in the Lansing area. Although I did not lose any family members, our family was touched by the passing of Darrell Smith II on March 31st. His mother is a longtime family friend, his brother and I share a birth story as we were one day apart, and Darrell Smith II was a dear friend to my eldest since kindergarten.

It got me thinking about the many friends I’ve lost over the years (I still remember Darren Jackson’s smile and Robert Wray’s laugh) and the number of funeral services I’ve attended. I heard the pain in a mother’s cry when the casket is closed for the last time. This time I had to hold my son while he cried for his friend.

After multiple tragedies struck our community, several community conversations took place. Two things stood out to me after hearing community members speak: the need for space and funding. Many small organizations that are already working with our youth have expressed a need for physical space or funding to do more with youth in our city.

The Gun Violence Task Force was created by Mayor Andy Schor in the hopes that we can come up with ideas and solutions to help our city bring events under control. The process for the city budget had already been completed for the 2021-22 fiscal year. But, due to a previous spending freeze in our departments, we had funds that could be carried over to the next fiscal year.

Mayor Schor’s proposal to carry over funds from the 2020-21 fiscal year to support youth activities in the City of Lansing was approved by City Council at its meeting on Monday, August 9. Rather than having these funds directed to reserves, we were able to request that the funds be directed to community youth program grants instead.

The purpose of the Youth Community Programs Grant Program is to provide funding to local organizations to enhance and expand their existing projects and programs to help prevent and end gun violence among youth up to 24 year.

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Civic organizations may apply for more than one grant of up to $2,000. Grant applications will be reviewed by volunteers from the Neighborhood Advisory Council.

Applications will be accepted until September 22. The application is available online at, or a paper application is available from the Department of Neighborhoods and Citizen Engagement office located at the Letts Community Center (West Side).

I sincerely hope that these funds will be useful to the organizations that do this important work with our young people. We know these grants are not huge, but they can have a significant and lasting impact in our community.

DeLisa Fountain is a mother of three sons and is the director of the Department of Neighborhoods and Citizen Engagement for the City of Lansing.


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