Workshop held for West End youth and family summer grant recipients

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

SALISBURY— On an ugly morning, people braved rain to come to the Byrne Criminal Justice Initiative West End Grant Youth and Family Capacity Summer Grantee Kickoff workshop at the Livingstone College Event Center on May 14. 

As a component to the overarching BCJI Program to reduce crime and make improvements to the West End neighborhood, local nonprofits operating in the summer months were given a chance to apply for a grant that would net them up to $20,000 to go towards certain objectives. The project’s 11-person grant review committee ultimately decided to give 23 nonprofits a portion of the $200,000 summer grant total. 

The Salisbury Police Department, Rowan County United Way, and Livingstone College were the sponsors for the event. 

“We knew we wanted to get our folks, our grantees, together to get to know each other, what programs we’re going to have, networking, and just having that organic opportunity to create partnerships, thus, strengthening our efforts in the West End community,” United Way Executive Director Jenny Lee said. 

Salisbury Police Chief Patrick “P.J.” Smith started the workshop off by giving a presentation on the project’s background and a timeline of how far things have come in the past few years. 

“It’s been a long two-and-a-half years, there’s been a lot of frustration, there’s been a lot of questions asked. ‘When are we going to get started?’” Smith said. “Now, we have the opportunity where services are to be provided and we’re going to be able to see our return on investment.”

Smith told the grant recipients they can obtain their funds by the end of the month. 

United Way Grants Manager and Executive Assistant Marc Keith also walked through how to utilize the “service provider metric collection tool” for nonprofits to outline their impact to the city and how to submit a final report by October. 

Then, Salisbury Communications Director Linda McElroy made people think about how they can promote themselves, what kind of advertising they can do, how they can make any necessary changes to their plans, and what assistance the city can offer them. 

Lastly, representatives from the nonprofits in attendance took turns addressing the crowd to explain who they are, what they do, and to share their contact information with everyone. 

Some of the recipients which included Next Generation Academy, Happy Roots, ApSeed and Bread Riot gave thorough accounts of the educational, recreational, and health services they will tackle because of the grant money. 

Salisbury High School sophomore Brooklynne Witherspoon formed her own nonprofit, A Bridge 4 Kids, after one of her cousin’s lives was taken due to gun violence. She said her organization focuses on teaching youth from kindergarten to 12th grade basic life learning skills. Later in the summer, Witherspoon intends to have a back-to-school event where she will hand out school supplies and give free haircuts to students as well as put on a co-ed basketball tournament. 

“Letting them have fun. I’m all about having fun in a safe place,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon said she believed the workshop was both informative and appealing for those participating in the summer grant program since this truly does hit close to home for her. 

“I thought it was good. I like coming to stuff like this so I can see what’s going on in the community because I live in the West End,” Witherspoon said.