Many philanthropists are working around the world to end humanitarian crises, but for some donors one of the biggest crises is in their own backyard. In recent years, the volume of nonprofit work addressing gun violence in the United States has increased significantly. Currently, gun violence claims about 35,000 lives each year, but thousands more are injured and hospitalized. The likelihood of federal gun control has diminished, a fact that has seemingly steeled some donors to throw themselves fully into the cause and made some serious headway in both state and local law.
MacArthur Foundation Focuses on Increasing Safety in Chicago
In cities across the United States, gun violence tends to increase exponentially during the summer months. This has generated a number of notable contributions from major sources since the spring. One of the major players in this arena is the MacArthur Foundation, which recently announced that its Community Capital Grants would focus on increasing safety and peace in Chicago communities for at least the coming year and potentially longer. A major way of achieving this goal is by curbing gun violence in Chicago, which has earned the nickname “Chiraq” due to the large number of deaths in certain neighborhoods. Last year, more than 750 people lost their lives to gun violence in the city, and halfway through 2017 the death toll is already approaching 400. The numbers have attracted a lot of attention to the issue.
MacArthur is thinking beyond guns alone and addressing some of the issues intricately tied to inner-city violence, such as incarceration rates and wavering trust between members of the community and police officers. So far, the foundation has made $3 million in grants to support efforts in these areas, all of which are meant to prevent violence.
Several funding sources, including the MacArthur Foundation, have provided support to the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a coalition that bolsters direct service groups throughout the country. The group is heavily focused on police reform and more stringent gun policies. The foundation has pledged funding to the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, which is working to build stronger communities throughout the city through dozens of grants and to provide funds to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to help make better predications about gun violence victims in the future.
Google.org Steps up to Address Gun Violence
Another major player in the fight against gun violence is Google.org, which announced a $2 million gift in June that will go toward supporting local groups working to end violence. The grant was made to the Peacemaker Partnership, an effort headed by PICO LIVE FREE and the Community Justice Reform Coalition. The Peacemaker Partnership has also secured funding from the Kellogg Foundation, among other major sources of philanthropy.
The Google.org funding will help to support programs implementing the Ceasefire model, which mobilizes community stakeholders, law enforcement, and social services organizations to reduce shootings through new forms of collaboration. In addition, funding will create training programs to prepare gunshot victims and perpetrators for jobs and to help reduce bias among police forces through workshops.
Other Major Funders Working to Reduce Gun Violence
Another major voice in philanthropy against gun violence is Michael Bloomberg, who launched the Everytown for Gun Safety initiative a few years ago. The organization has already spent tens of millions of dollars to create safer communities across the nation. Moreover, the organization hinted that it would spend up to $25 million in 2018 to back Congressional candidates who prioritize ending urban violence. Other key donors to the effort to reduce gun violence include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Joyce Foundation, and the David Bohnett Foundation.
Many of these organizations have shifted the goal of philanthropy away from gun control, which has the potential to alienate millions of Americans in rural areas and is already largely in place in urban areas. Instead, like the major funders previously mentioned, these organizations are looking to the roots of gun violence for more pragmatic ways of making a real, measurable difference. Already, many funders have stepped up to fund research, which has largely been lacking since the 1990s ban on federally funded research on gun violence. The research can inform new policy solutions, suggest better messaging, and unveil partnership possibilities.
More than a dozen funders for the prevention of gun violence have come together to create the Fund for a Safer Future, which hopes to propel collaboration and coordination. Since its inception, the organization has issued more than $6 million in anti-violence grants directly and facilitated $43 million in member grants. Like other funders, the organization addresses the roots of violence and funds efforts aimed at community organizing, communication, research, and state-law approaches. In addition to the MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and the Kendeda Fund are also members of the Fund for a Safer Future.