A board that will decide how to spend $250,000 to support community groups working to prevent violence and crime will get two more members.
The Fayetteville City Council moved forward with the anticrime initiative by deciding Monday night to add two seats on the board, bringing the total to five.
The citizens review panel will oversee the Community Safety Micro-Grant program, which will funnel grants ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 to community groups that have existing programs to prevent crime.
Police Chief Gina Hawkins first proposed a series of crime-reduction strategies in the fall of 2021, according to city officials. The council appropriated $250,000 to fund the grant program in November.
According to Chris Cauley, the Police Department is working with the City Manager’s Office and Economic & Community Development Department on a plan to give out the grants.
Cauley, who is director of the Economic & Community Development Department, and Hawkins presented the micro-grant strategy to the City Council at its meeting Monday night.
“So, basically, we all understand crime is a big problem that deals with a lot of different issues,” Hawkins told the council.
The city began taking grant applications on May 2, Cauley said.
In April, the City Council signaled interest in the program and asked for clarification on the process of reviewing applications, Cauley said.
Applicants are not required to be a nonprofit group to request a grant in each of four grant cycles. The city has allocated $50,000 for each cycle.
Funded programs will be required to report measurable outcomes.
“You cannot be an entity that makes more than $100,000 as a nonprofit,” according to Hawkins. “You don’t have to be part of an organization. You can be an individual, or you can have some ideas. It can be two people.”
Applications for the first grant cycle are due by May 29. The fourth and final grant cycle is expected to be completed by the fall of 2023.
“This is a community initiative,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins and Cauley said examples of what potential projects would address include:
Applications will be presented to the citizens review panel and evaluated for inclusivity, collaboration, resourcefulness and innovation.
“Will there be a time frame to see if these concepts work?” Councilman D.J. Haire asked.
“Absolutely,” Hawkins replied. “That’s part of the application process, and everything’s going to be different. You can imagine some time frames take six months. Sometimes they take two years. Because to see results, you have to see the data that we have provided.”
Grant applicants would have to say how they expect to show results, Hawkins said.
The review panel will include one representative each of the Fayetteville Redevelopment Commission, Citizen Police Advisory Board and Human Relations Commission. On Monday, the council decided to add someone from the mental health sector and a school safety coordinator.
“Based on the council's direction and the vote tonight, the chief and I will go back and determine who those representatives ought to be,” Cauley said. “The grant program is underway right now. We’ve got several applications in the system and had 30 attendees for the first training session and 28 for the second one.
“We expect to see a grant application from every single Community Watch in our community,” he concluded.
In other business, the council agreed to table a request from the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival for $15,000 to support programming because of the effects of COVID-19. The festival intends to use the money for stability, according to agenda materials.
The festival was held in downtown Fayetteville on April 21-24.