Unwelcome summer break for Chicago violence prevention program

July 5, 2013

(AP/file)
Alphonso Prater, left, and Karl Bell "violence interrupters" with CeaseFire, a program that aims to stop gun violence before shots are fired, patrol the streets of Chicago's West Side, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006. CeaseFire employs ex-convicts who work on the front lines in some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods.

Every June, Ceasefire sites across Chicago get an email saying that their program will shut down starting July 1st, and until further notice.

That’s because it’s the beginning of the state’s fiscal year, and there is a gap before when the state sends out money and the organization can process it.

Many social service programs face a similar funding gap.  But Josh Gryniewicz of Ceasefire says that it’s particularly challenging for Ceasefire. Summer months are violent and it’s when the program’s staff, who intervene conflicts, are most needed.

“It just an unfortunate perfect storm,” said Gryniewicz.

In the past, workers have been on hiatus anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.
But Gryniewicz expects this year to be the shortest gap yet. That’s because all the ceasefire sites got their budgets in ahead of time and the program is getting help streamlining the budget process.

A handful of Ceasefire sites with additional funding are still in operation.The program is looking for individual donations to keep other programs open.

Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @shannon_h