Community Foundation Awards Grant to Address Street Violence & Related Trauma

Nearly $345,000 in Grants Awarded to Nonprofits in Onondaga & Madison counties

October 12, 2017 – It is 1:00 a.m. on a warm summery evening. Most of the city is asleep, but Timothy Jennings-Bey is driving down the dark, quiet Syracuse streets to another grisly murder scene. Soon he will be met with a grieving mother who just witnessed her son being gunned down in front of their home. Standing next to her is the victim’s thirteen year-old brother, a look of devastation and anger reflected in his features.

Most couldn’t imagine pulling themselves out of bed in the middle of the night to face such a heartbreaking scene. But to Jennings-Bey, it is an all too common horror in his mission to put a stop to street violence and its resulting trauma. He serves as Trauma Response Director and founder of the Street Addiction Institute (SAI).

Jennings-Bey founded SAI two years ago after studying the concept of behavioral addiction to street violence, culminating in the national publication of his 2014 paper, Street Addiction: A Proposed Theoretical Model for Understanding the Draw of Street Life and Gang Activity in the Journal of Addiction Research and Theory. Now, through SAI, he sets out to break the cycle of neighborhood feuding and associated trauma that can lead to retaliation and a life of poverty.

The gravity of seeing a friend get shot, losing a loved one or even just living in and around violent neighborhoods can cause feelings of grief and fear, leading to post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, revenge violence and detachment from friends, family and school, according to the Syracuse Neighborhood Violence Research Network. This can impede one’s ability to maintain healthy relationships, gain a proper education or secure a job.

2016 was the deadliest year in Syracuse’s history. There were 31 murders reported in Syracuse last year, making the city’s per-capita homicide rate higher than that of other Upstate New York cities and five times higher than New York City.

“The impact of this violence in such a small geographic area is that most members of the community know multiple people who have been shot, stabbed and or killed,” said Jennings-Bey. “Many affected people are experiencing trauma similar to those who live in war zones. We need to tackle this head on and protect our communities by preventing future trauma from repeating itself in these neighborhoods.”

The Central New York Community Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $50,000 grant to the United Way of Central New York to assist SAI in becoming self-sustaining.

SAI actively works with the Trauma Response Team as well as other community groups to conduct intervention and prevention around issues related to trauma, grief, loss, violence and behavioral addiction. SAI utilizes messengers – such as therapists, pastors and social workers – within high-violence neighborhoods who can best connect with the challenges that residents are facing. These messengers are on the front lines, responding to neighborhood killings and providing help to victim’s families.

The Community Foundation awarded its grant from its new Venture Fund. Grants from this fund provide financial support for organizations to grow promising ideas to a larger scale. The grant will assist the SAI with becoming an independent organization. This includes opening and staffing an office with a dedicated associate that will manage financials, grant requests, service contracts, and programming. The money will additionally help the organization to build its board of directors.

“This grant will support the finance, management and governance capabilities needed for SAI to grow as an independent organization,” said Community Foundation president and CEO, Peter Dunn. “They rightly dedicate their time and energy to having folks on the ground and out in neighborhoods. This grant helps build back office systems that will support SAI’s community engagement.”

The United Way has helped to incubate the organization from its inception. The impact of the Community Foundation grant will allow the SAI to stand on its own, putting it in a better position to serve more individuals and combat violence more effectively. The addition of a new staff person will equip SAI to internally track data, contracts, and finances to ensure it has the most impact through its outreach.

To learn more about future grant opportunities please visit

The Community Foundation awarded the following grants to local nonprofit organizations:

A Tiny Home for Good received $20,000 toward the development of a four-unit tiny home community to provide housing for individuals facing homelessness.

Friends of Beaver Lake received $32,003 to create new exhibits that will provide visitors with a deeper awareness of the complexity of the ecosystem and the decisions that affect it.

Good Life Youth Foundation received $56,123 to develop Good Life Enterprises, a social enterprise and job training program for youth facing poverty in Syracuse. The training will teach them the necessary skills to be successful in future job endeavors.

Museum of Science & Technology Foundation (MoST) received $59,975 to fund phase one of renovations to its traveling exhibit area.

Person to Person Citizen Advocacy Association received $11,637 to hire a consultant to assist with organizational and fund development. The consultant will provide coaching and assistance for staff and board to obtain stable fundraising dollars.

Ronald McDonald House of CNY received $24,282 to support technology upgrades that will assist with growth in occupancy and fund development. The upgrades will increase the staff’s capacity to effectively manage day-to-day operations of guest services and donor management.

Skaneateles Early Childhood Center received $25,000 to replace its roof. The new roof will prevent water leakage and fix compromised barrier and insulation that could pose a danger risk to children.

Society for New Music received $19,500 to host an opera performance about Matilda Joslyn Gage in partnership with Syracuse City High Schools and Cazenovia College. The performance will educate youth about the important role that CNY native Matilda Joslyn Gage had in the Women’s Suffrage movement.

Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School received $19,000 to install a library to support its literacy program. The new library will serve and address the low literacy rates of students that live in underserved areas in the city of Syracuse.

United Way of CNY received $50,000 to expand the Street Addiction Institute, which provides trauma-related support to residents of neighborhoods affected by gun and gang violence.

These grants were awarded from the following charitable funds administered by the Community Foundation:

Charles F. Brannock Fund, Shirley M. Aubrey Fund, Carriage House Foundation Fund, Community Fund, John F. Marsellus Fund, Educational Endowment Fund, Harold & Marion Edwards and O.M. Edwards Fund, Jelly Bean Angel Fund for Innovation, Lewis-Trinity Fund, and Durston Sanford & Doris Sanford Fund.

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of permanent charitable endowments for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $226 million. It awarded $14 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, it has invested nearly $170 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and businesses through the administration of more than 700 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen local nonprofits and address the region’s most pressing challenges.

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