Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Allocates $2M DOJ Grant to Expand Youth Violence Prevention Program

Jefferson County Family Resource Center Executive Director Carrie Buntain spoke to the Birmingham City Council March 26, 2024, about the expansion of the center’s Restore program. (Source: City of Birmingham stream)

The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday voted to give nearly $2 million from a federal grant to expand a local violence prevention program.

The majority of the Department of Justice grant will go to the Jefferson County Family Resource Center to expand the age range for its Restore program, which offers mental health and case management services to Birmingham youths. The initiative currently serves children aged 15 to 19, but the grant will allow officials to expand the program to include children as young as 11.

“I think this is a very pivotal moment in a child’s life, so I really want to thank you for that. I know we’re going to see a big difference in our youth,” Councilor Crystal Smitherman said to center Executive Director Carrie Buntain, who addressed the council Tuesday.

Buntain told the council that the Restore program — which stands for Reduce, Educate, Support, Train, Organize, Realize, Empower — celebrated a year of operation this month and has served more than 700 young people through its workshops.

“There is very clearly a need,” she said.

Organizers have already opened the workshops to 11- to 15-year-olds, and that age range now represents 20% to 25% of the participants, Buntain said.

According to the center’s website, Restore is designed to “bring together a group of agencies that have contact with high-risk populations in order to create a multidisciplinary team capable of crafting a comprehensive, coordinated approach to and understanding of the social and socioeconomic realities of the families in our community.”

The center will receive $1.1 million of the $2 million grant. According to city officials, the remaining money will go to other agencies involved in the initiative as well as a project coordinator.

The council passed the measure unanimously.

Violence prevention continues to be a major policy goal for Birmingham leaders, who plan to spend more than $6 million on youth services in the 2024 fiscal year.

According to data from the Birmingham Police Department earlier this month, there had been 369 incidents of violent crime in the city so far this year. That represents a decrease of 17% compared to the same time last year. However, the city has experienced 17 murders so far this year, compared to 12 at the same time in 2023.

More Business

In other business, the council:

  • Agreed to apply for a $10 million grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. If approved, the city would convert a portion of its fleet to electric vehicles and install charging stations for those vehicles. The city would also use the money to develop a rebate program that would pay for electronic bikes for eligible residents to reduce vehicle traffic and the pollution that comes with it. City plans for the grant money also include street conversions around Railroad Park to install bike lanes as well as the development of plans for potential transit-oriented developments, such as pedestrian crossings, terminal stations or redevelopment of neglected areas for walking or biking.
  • Approved an agreement in which the city will pay $231,100 to Dynamic Civil Solutions Inc. to provide surveying and civil engineering services for Shades Creek Greenway project. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • Recognized the Alabama Heat track athletes, eight of whom were named all-Americans in the 200-meter dash.