The Nonprofit Industrial Complex Strikes It's Ugly Head at City Council (5/25)
Nonprofits fighting for the breadcrumbs of $1 million while police asking for $165 million. The Shame! (Issa lot so we include an addendum with even more details at the end of this summary)
Chiiiiile it's MESSY BOOTS!
So...Dr. Nicole Clavo's, Manager from the Office of Violence Prevention announces awarding $1 million dollars in grant funding to organizations doing violence prevention work in the City. There was not enough to fund the over $2 million in requests. The City is getting away from "sole sourcing" or only contracting with one org: Read Sierra Health Foundation which does Healing the Hood & Advance Peace which were not on the list of those orgs receiving funds. They had been before. So what happened?
Cue in a slew of public comments on how important Advance Peace (AP) and Healing the Hood (HTH) are to violence prevention.
Side Note: Very few programs work with the SAME population as Advance Peace because it is HARD and requires a very specific skill set. What is frustrating is that instead of thanking and appreciating AP for the unique role they play in the community, the city never fully supported them. Pro-cop staff in the City Manager's office and pro-cop Councilmembers routinely scrutinized AP (operating on a $2 million shoestring budget) in ways they never scrutinized the police operations or efficacy.
Well here comes the mayor lecturing that 1) Advance Peace did not apply for the grant (which likely happened cuz they wanted AP to work with Police and given the population AP works with, they cannot work with police. ). & 2) that community groups need to work together to set their priorities because Council can't set it for them.
"when the community puts its differences in front of the Council it does not end well...I get what's going on, there are lots of rivalries. Please don't put that on our door step"
He suggests that maybe we do another round with CARES 2 funding.
Guerra is like no. He has talked to many members of his community and they want Advance Peace. He wants this to come back with AP as part of the 2021-2022 budget.
(Cue this is where Guerra and Ashby show their differences for their 2022 state Senate race against each other)
Mayor says we ain’t got the money but can fund it with CARES 2 funding.
Councilmember Rick Jennings wasn't happy with that at all. To add insult to AP not getting funding injury, he was also upset that well-known nonprofits such as Rose Creative Empowerment did not receive much money ($83K) or were not on the list while others he hadn't heard of were funded with $250k when they have the same scope of work.
“We have six new orgs, four we don’t know anything about. They haven’t been part of the collaborative process that Healing the Hood and Advance Peace has been a part of…"
He continues "I don’t see the comprehensive plan for this fitting in with what we have been doing with Healing the Hood and Advance Peace…The community clearly is telling us they want continuity. They have seen those partners been successful..How did these 6 get to the top?” Let’s fund the proven collaboratives who have done this work and find resources to bring in new one. This funding process did not allow for collaboratives. "
So what exactly is going on?
What we have heard is that Dr. Clavo came in with her own plan. She is not a fan of Advance Peace nor does she believe in the efficacy of the work that is Healing the Hood. Therefore, she is looking to fund other orgs—a counter collaborative if you will to the one already in existence to HTH and AP.
Then there are the alliances of what community org is more aligned with Chief Hahn of the Police Department or Chet Hewitt of the Sierra Health Foundation.
All bad/sad because it sounds like politics before community. This is the unfortunate reality of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex. There is a lot of work but not enough money and so orgs are fighting and creating alliances.
So, there you have it. If you were as confused as we were watching that meeting, hopefully this cleared some things up.
In the end, Jennings got the votes to pause decision being made on funding these org and to have a workshop instead to dig in deeper. Stay tuned.
WHAT MEETING DID YOU ATTEND? Sac City Council
DATE OF MEETING May 25, 2021
WHAT IS THE AGENDA ITEM YOU ARE GIVING FEEDBACK ON (IF ANY)? 24 - Gang Prevention and Intervention Taskforce Grant Program Awards
WHAT WAS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE(S) DISCUSSED (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY): Other
IF "OTHER", PLEASE DESCRIBE: Violence Prevention
WHAT HAPPENED? TELL US THE MAIN POINTS IN YOUR OWN WORDS. Dr. Nicole Clavo is the manager of the office of violence prevention. In January her office released a $1 million RFP for community-based organizations (CBOs) to fund prevention, intervention and suppression efforts. In response, 17 organizations applied for the funding totaling $2.9 million (nearly 3 times the amount of funding available). Before the Council was a motion to approve funding to six organizations receiving $83,3333 or $250,000. In her opening remarks, she mentioned that the city is moving away from sole-source funding. She also mentioned by name one program: Advance Peace, which is funded through December 2021.
Advance Peace (AP) is a program that originated and was concept proofed in Richmond to reduce gun violence by providing transformational opportunities to young men involved in lethal firearm offenses and placing them in a high-touch, personalized fellowship. The program has been controversial because opponents claim that it "pays criminals not to commit crimes," which is not how we would frame an evidence-based prevention program that makes our communities safer by meeting the human needs of young men in great need.
Advance Peace was previously a city program, but documentation exists suggesting that leadership in Advance Peace agreed to move its operations to an external partner over a several year period starting in December 2019. Likely, this happened because the city kept insisting that Advance Peace work with the police. Let's explore this for a moment: given the population AP works with, they cannot work with police. Their success is based entirely on building trust with young men who often have high trauma and low trust of systems (understandably, given their lived experiences).
Furthermore, violence prevention operates on a continuum. After school programming is violence prevention -- and is important. But so is disrupting violence for people who are actively engaged in it. Very few programs work with the SAME population as Advance Peace because it is HARD and requires a very specific skill set. What is frustrating is that instead of thanking and appreciating AP for the unique role they play in the community, the city never fully supported them. Pro-cop staff in the City Manager's office and pro-cop Councilmembers routinely scrutinized AP (operating on a $2 million shoestring budget) in ways they never scrutinized the police operations or efficacy.
Furthermore, they never provided administrative support to AP for program reporting and evaluation, gave them very little support, but predictably undermined the program from its inception by criticizing their reporting and evaluation activities as incomplete or non-compliant. It is noteworthy that documentation of effectiveness that is wholly absent from the $165 million funded police department.
Here is where the drama begins. Moving away from contracting was mentioned because Advance Peace agreed to move outside of the city and did not apply for the RFA because there was a misunderstanding about what moving externally meant. Some people affiliated with AP were under the impression that the contract with the city would be continued -- because of conversations to this effect with city staff -- and therefore they would not need to apply for the RFA. Unfortunately, these agreements were not documented, so city staff contend that AP agreed to be an external program run by a CBO and thus would need to apply for funding similarly to other organizations. They did not and therefore are not eligible for funding through this RFP, but can apply for future funding opportunities.
There were also concerns when Dr. Clavo was hired that she comes from a law enforcement background and has been critical of decarceration efforts related to youth gun violence and was joining the chorus of city leaders who were less than enthusiastic about Advance Peace; the lack of funding to Advance Peace in this (her first RFP) reinforced concerns that she isn't supportive of the program ( that may not be the case, but the concerns linger).
Dr. Clavo mentioned wanting the programs to work synergistically, but the questions linger about whether synergy requires all programs to partner with police -- which may be a nonstarter for programs like AP. After Dr. Clavo's opening, public comment began with 12 callers in the queue. All of them supported Advance Peace and several callers called into question some of the organizations that were funded -- expressing more confidence in AP than the selected organizations. Callers included community members directly affected by gun violence, and prominent advocates such as Pastor Les Simmons (who noted that he was kicked off of the phone system after waiting for 3 hours) from South Sacramento Christian Center and Gabby Trejo, Executive Director of Sacramento A.C.T.
Deborah Cummings, from Healing the Hood, mentioned the death of her 9 year old family member and thanked Advance Peace for their support -- and accused the city of defunding Advance Peace calling it a "raw deal" going on to say "our babies are dying and you need to put some respect on our babies' names." People were upset with the office and called out organizations like Brother to Brother, whose staff called in to support Police Chief Hahn and his budget request which is the highest police budget in city history and a full $30.5 million more than they received in FY 19/20 -- just over a year ago -- and $10 million more than the current FY 20/21. After public comment, Dr. Clavo mentioned that Healing the Hood was defunded but they have $2 million through the year. She also clarified that AP was not defunded and reiterated that they mutually agreed to move outside of the city and stated that their fellowships extend through December for adults and 2023 for youth.
Dr. Clavo also mentioned that she only had $1 million -- A TRAVESTY in a city with a $650 million general fund. Thankfully Councilmembers Guerra and Jennings raised significant issues regarding this RFA process and support for Advance Peace moving forward. Guerra wanted to specifically discuss Advance Peace since they have funding until December and there is time to talk. Ashby and Steinberg did not want to discuss AP into the current budget conversation and wanted to wait and discuss new funding opportunities when new state dollars or ARPA funds come; CM Guerra was source agnostic about funding sources, but wanted to come back later in budget session to discuss (not put this off for other funding). CM Jennings stated directly that 4 of the 6 programs disrupt the continuity of violence prevention programming because they have not been involved in the ongoing collaborative process -- that exists with current partners. He said he didn't want to discredit any of the selected organizations, but said "there are 4 organizations on here that I can't tell you anything about and I've been in the nonprofit world since 1997 as a CEO." Councilmember Jennings was very clear that he had questions about scope of services, funding amounts, and the fact that collaboratives could not apply together to support collective work.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE? ARE THERE IMPORTANT NEXT STEPS ON THIS ISSUE? WHAT SHOULD SJPC READERS DO? It was infuriating to watch the Mayor open the Council comments by condescendingly man-splaining callers, suggesting that they should have worked together to ask for more money for all of the orgs instead of infighting. "What a difference this hearing would be if folks from the Advance Peace side and Brother to Brother side had gotten together and said 'please double the money here so we can do more.' But that's not what's happening. And as someone who is a fierce supporter, I'm telling you, this is hurting the cause. And I'm telling you that when the community puts its issues at the doorstep of elected officials, it doesn't always turn out so well."
The commentary is rich given that the city's scarce resources and insistence on funding and legitimizing the police department is part of the reason why a) Advance Peace left the city and b) there aren't enough funds to better support the programs that ACTUALLY make our city safe. Furthermore, for years, Councilmember Ashby frequently played the demoralizing game of "Look at my Crabs in the Barrel" by naming Black Community members who she deemed "worthy of funding" more than Advance Peace, who she framed as outsiders to Sacramento who can't do this work. But the data show that in the years AP was operational, the gun violence rate was much lower than the years prior to the program. So, to pretend as if more money would be on the table just because people asked -- over 4 hours into a meeting where people were simply asking for the police not to get an unearned raise -- is laughable. But the issue is: most of the orgs funded do some form of violence prevention. Respect. But they don't all do violence INTERRUPTION. Both are needed. And Advance Peace and Healing the Hood not applying for funding points to a system failure -- they were not intentionally abstaining. The Mayor wanted to move forward to pass the motion to fund the 6 programs and then have a follow up workshop about ARPA and state funds. CM Guerra held fast to his request for a workshop and not voting on funding the orgs until a longer conversation (including Advance Peace) is had. CM Guerra's motion passed -- a shock because it may be the first time since his election in 2016 that the Mayor has lost a vote on the dais. Consider reaching out to the Council to express interest in increased funding for violence prevention, collaborative funding for multiple agencies working in partnership, and allowances for programs to avoid requirements to work with law enforcement. Also look out for the item in coming weeks and please pay very close attention to how MPT Ashby and the Mayor frame the discussion.