By Francisco L. White
Officials welcomed citizens to the Massachusetts State House on Thursday morning to discuss Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed funding increase for The Senator Charles E. Shannon, Jr. Community Safety Initiative, known as the Shannon Grant.
The grant, named after the late senator who passed away in 2005, supports community services in various cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth that are geared toward youth violence prevention and anti-gang efforts.
Worcester Youth Center’s GED Program is funded by the grant, for example. Gov. Patrick has proposed a $2 million increase, from $6 million to $8 million, for the 2013 fiscal year. Sen. Donoghue explained, “This is an important day here on the Hill. I know the Shannon Grant and the truth is, this is an investment for all of us, not just the youth, but an investment in our future. And I want to applaud Gov. Patrick for seeing it that way.”
The meeting was organized by the Metropolitan Mayors’ Coalition, a local initiative facilitated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Senators Sonia Chang-Diaz and Sal DiDomenico were in attendance, as were Representatives Provost, Donato, and Henriquez. Youths from several organizations, including Somerville’s Teen Empowerment, attended as well. Mayor Joe Curtatone of Somerville, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors’ Coalition, said, “We see the importance of this statewide effort for intervention and violence prevention.” Secretary of public safety Mary E. Heffernan said, “Everyone’s invested in making young people feel safe on our streets.”
Information given to those in attendance explained that funding for the grant has fluctuated in the past; in 2009, it received an all-time high of $13 million, followed by $4.5 million in 2010, and $5.5 million for 2012. Since its inception, five years ago, over 40 communities and 100 agencies have benefited from the program.
Mayor Curtatone says that it is because of the grant that “in Somerville, we have police-youth dialogues.”
Sen. Donoghue stressed the importance of citizens, especially youths, being vocal in support of the funding increase: “Make no mistake. It is a tough budget and advocacy is important.”
Jay Ash, city manager of Chelsea, was optimistic about approval of the increase, saying, “We will be successful because we have so much momentum, which you have advanced today.”
Attendees signed their names in support of the measure, before taking the opportunity to be photographed with various state and city officials.