BRAVE looks to nonprofit to maintain its anti-crime operations
BATON ROUGE - The city-parish reports officials are taking steps to preserve its “highly successful” Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) project as federal funding is set to expire soon.
In order to keep the BRAVE team on the streets, officials have established a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation that is able to accept tax-deductible donations.
That newly established nonprofit, BRAVE, Inc., recently held its first fundraiser, and officials are making a major push to ask for donations in order to maintain the program.
BRAVE has targeted gang-related violence in criminal hotspots throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. In the first full year of the program, murders in the parish dropped from 83 to 66, constituting a 20 percent drop. The program initially targeted known violent and drug-trade offenders, starting in the 70805 area code in North Baton Rouge. It is has been expanded to give criminals an opportunity to escape a life of crime through education, substance abuse treatment, workforce development, mentoring and mental health counseling, according to project directors.
“BRAVE is one of the biggest success stories to come out of East Baton Rouge Parish in recent years,” said Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden. “This move to establish a nonprofit funding mechanism will hopefully help to ensure funding is in place so BRAVE can continue providing services to youth that opt out of gang and group-related crimes.“
BRAVE was actually launched in May 2012 with $150,000 in city-parish funding that was used primarily to pay for the services of BRAVE Director Herbert “Tweety” Anny and consultant Jim Fealy. Anny and Fealy provided the technical assistance needed to start violence reduction efforts, according to the Mayor’s Office.
In a few months, Mayor “Kip” Holden and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that the BRAVE program had received a $1.5 million federal grant to be spread over a three-year period. A year later, the parish was awarded another $1 million in federal grant money to build upon the BRAVE effort by putting into place a comprehensive, place-based plan to address community crime issues in the four interconnected neighborhoods borderings the 70805 and 70802 zip codes.
After seeing the success of BRAVE in Baton Rouge, officials in Jackson, Mississippi, set up their own version of the program. More information about BRAVE is available at www.BRAVEbr.com.