Children’s Trust allocates $250K for gun violence

Marsha Kiner speaks at CTAC's joint meeting with the BOCC.
Marsha Kiner speaks at CTAC's joint meeting with the BOCC.
Photo by Glory Reitz

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and the Children’s Trust of Alachua County (CTAC) discussed literacy and gun violence in a joint meeting on Monday. 

The Children’s Trust committed up to $250,000 to support community-based anti-gun violence initiatives after a presentation introducing the city of Gainesville’s efforts, as well as a new movement called Cease Violence in the Hood. 

Jarell Whitehead, of Strong-Minded Mentoring, spoke on behalf of Cease Violence, which was created in partnership with Cure Violence Global, using intervention methods that treat gun violence as a disease. 

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Whitehead said Cease Violence’s mission is to identify and support high-risk individuals and groups by getting involved and asking their communities what they need. He said responses so far have indicated that people want jobs, community centers and role models, but they need those last two areas to be filled with people they can trust and relate to. 

“We know violence is everywhere, so how can we attack and get there to the violence?” Whitehead said. “By allowing people… just like me, who understand the individuals, who can go and knock on doors and they’re actually gonna listen.” 

The plan leans on an idea of being violence “interrupters” that get involved in the community before crimes are committed. 

Brittany Coleman, the city of Gainesville’s gun violence intervention program manager, who also spoke about the city’s new IMPACT GNV plan, said the next steps moving forward will be figuring out what the alliance will look like. 

BOCC Commissioner Anna Prizzia said she is excited about the collaboration but did not want to lose any opportunities. She made a motion to ask county staff to work with CTAC and the city to put together budget needs for the Cure Violence model’s implementation in Alachua County. 

Anna Prizzia speaks at the joint meeting with the Children's Trust of Alachua County.
Photo by Glory Reitz Anna Prizzia speaks at the joint meeting with the Children’s Trust of Alachua County.

The motion passed unanimously, and Ken Cornell, who is a member of both boards, followed up with a separate motion for CTAC. 

“I think to have the local impact, and the local community workers, and to hear what the city has brought together… and to see this momentum that’s happening, I want to do some immediate stuff, if we can do it, but our [county] budget doesn’t really allow for that,” Cornell said. 

Cornell said he understood Prizzia’s motion to be aimed at the county’s 2024-25 budget, which starts in October, but noted that CTAC’s new strategic plan set aside 10% of its budget for “safety.” 

Some of that 10% is still unallocated, and Cornell made a motion for staff to work with the city and county managers to provide up to $250,000 in one-time funding to enhance community-based gun violence efforts. 

Cornell’s motion also passed unanimously. 

CTAC Member Maggie Labarta said she wanted to ensure the trust’s contribution helped create something sustainable, coordinating with other funding streams to ensure the project can continue. 

Gainesville city commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker spoke during public comment and told the boards she has spoken to young people in the community who have told her they need places to go, things to do, mentors and jobs. 

“I ask my colleagues that that becomes our mantra, that guides our work,” Duncan-Walker said. “When we start thinking about what we must do, it’s not about us scratching our heads and saying ‘hm, wonder what we need to do.’ It’s not even about reading a book or watching a documentary, this is literally what the children here locally have said that they need.” 

The two boards also received an update on literacy initiatives. CTAC director Marsha Kiner introduced the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center for Learning, which is working with CTAC on the assessment. 

Kiner also clarified that the plan is not confined to up to third grade, though that was the original focus. The needs assessment will examine literacy from birth through at least the age of 18. 

The literacy assessment is currently in Phase 1, including one-on-one meetings with partners and looking at existing data. Phase 2 will be collecting new data, and Phase 3 will be a post-assessment. 

Kiner said staff is also considering expanding the timeline, as Phase 2 currently falls in June and it would be difficult to collect data at schools during the summer. 

“The key here is not to go fast,” Kiner said. “The key here is to do it right and do it right the first time.” 

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Since the voters will not institute effective forms of gun control, it lands upon schools to teach children about guns. What parents do not teach, the schools must teach. Remember, TV is teaching them about guns all the time. They get to watch unrealistic scenes of gun violence every single day multiple times all day long. They have learned guns are problem-solvers. When you have parents who will not actively dispute that idea, the schools must.
Poor human parenting is the cause of almost every problem on Earth. The problem is the self-involved parents. But self-involvement is what capitalism teaches.


I agree with all but your last statement. Capitalism fails without good teamwork. It teaches how to work together toward a common goal. Profiteering is what best teaches self-involvement and it’s different from capitalism.


So you are against capitalism? What about all the local stores? My son owns a shop that provides a service to the community. He works hard at it. Is that what you call self-involvement? Making a living? I suggest you move to Cuba, Russia or China. The government will run your life, tell you where you can live, what you can eat and where you will work. No worries getting ahead by having to work hard. Everyone gets the same no matter what.
However, I agree that parent involvement is crucial in raising upstanding citizens of the future. I don’t think schools should teach anything except academics. Also, I agree that people need to get out and vote.