Aurora, CO

Aurora spends $200k on youth violence prevention programs

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Aurora, Colo.) Youth violence in Aurora has a formidable foe now that the city council voted Monday to award just under $200,000 to non-profits working to make youths safer.

The awards went to:

University of Colorado AIM Project: $40,000. The program uses outreach workers to contact people injured by violence to provide a "teachable moment," to help reduce the likelihood of retaliatory behaviors and engages the patient in potential long-term services," Youth Violence Prevention Program Manager Christina Amparan explained to the council. People who continue in the program are assigned a case manager who will work with the participant for 12 to 18 months.

Mosaic Unlimited, Inc.: $40,000. Mayor Pro Tem Francoise Bergan made a substitute motion to change the proposal from $78,000 to $40,000 by removing the "Safe Haven" funding. The Strengthening Families curriculum remains. Bergan removed Safe Haven, a faith-based initiative, because she does not believe in compensating churches for opening their doors during a crisis. She said that should be inherent in their work.

18th Juvenile Assessment Center: $75,000. Amparan said the assessment center is a trusted partner with the schools, courts, law enforcement, child welfare, and others. The money will meet increased demand from community partners, parents in crisis, and referring entities.

Aurora Community Connection: $39,600. The money would pay for a full-time mental health provider to help cut wait lists. Mental health is a consistent risk factor in youth victimized or who act out violently, Amparan said.

Council drags feet on grant awards

The council took several weeks to decide which organizations would get the grants. A volunteer panel of community experts recommended a list of recipients, but the council decided to make changes.

On Monday, the council didn't fund three programs that city staff recommended: Fully Liberated Youth, Step Up Youth Corporation and Struggle of Love Foundation.

Using a scoring system based on previous council direction, city staff recommended the organizations receive grants.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

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