Five members of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance pose for a photo in a hallway at Euclid High School.
Staff members of the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance pose for a photo at Euclid High School. Peacemakers Alliance received a $40,000 grant to continue their violence prevention work. Credit: Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance

The Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance received a grant from a national organization to continue its violence prevention work. The funding comes as Cleveland is experiencing an increase in crime.

Everytown Community Safety Fund awarded the Peacemakers Alliance $40,000 to support the work they do interrupting violence in Cleveland communities. 

The Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance sends outreach workers, known as violence interrupters, to the trauma centers at MetroHealth System and University Hospitals to comfort families and prevent retaliation after shootings. Peacemakers also offers mediation, violence prevention, conflict resolution and family services.

It’s the second time Everytown has given Peacemakers funding. The alliance received a $100,000 grant about three years ago, said Myesha Watkins, executive director of Peacemakers Alliance. 

“It allows us to continue to show up with consistency and integrity to help those who are indirectly or directly impacted by gun violence,” Watkins said. “Whether that’s in the communities, inside of the court system or at either Level One trauma hospital.” 

City working to fund violence prevention

The funding comes as Cleveland is working harder to address violent crime. In August, Gov. Mike DeWine and Mayor Justin Bibb announced a “surge initiative” where federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are collaborating to “target crime hotspots,” make arrests and confiscate illegally owned guns. 

At a news conference last week the governor and mayor provided an update on the initiative. Bibb said reducing violence in Cleveland will take more than a heightened law enforcement response. 

Bibb said his administration is working with City Council and the Cleveland Foundation to create a $10 million Neighborhood Safety Fund. The city’s goal is to fund up to $1 million on “the interventions and solutions that we know can reduce violent crime in our city,” Bibb said. 

Watkins said Everytown, which focuses on supporting community-based violence intervention in cities across the United States, truly cares about the people doing  the work and the communities that benefit from it.

“Although $40,000 doesn’t seem like a lot, in organizations [like Peacemakers] that don’t have reliable funding or lack sustainability, this is huge for us,” Watkins said.

On top of the $40,000 grant, Everytown will pay for Watkins to attend a national conference in Atlanta next month. At the Cities United Convening conference, Watkins said she will be able to learn from what others are doing to reduce violence in their communities.

“What I will say about this work is that it’s hard,” Watkins said. “And sometimes you feel like you’re in this fight alone. And to be connected to comrades and colleagues all across the country, you understand that this is a fight that’s worth continuing to fight for.”

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.