New Efforts to Increase Public Safety with Better Policing

As the Memphis community continues to grapple with the aftermath of the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, NewDEAL Leader Tennessee Senator Raumesh Akbari, who represents the city, introduced a legislative package to strengthen police reforms in the state. Among the proposals, Akbari addresses the urging of RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols’ mother, to establish a duty to intervene for any police officers when they observe a fellow officer using excessive force. Other legislation would address criminal consequences around the improper use of force and the failure to render medical aid to individuals injured during an interaction with officers. In a statement, Akbari said she understands the heavy burden on police officers, but that the new laws will lead to better policing, “After George Floyd, Tennessee was one of the few states that adopted many of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ legislation, around chokeholds, around duty to intervene, around use of force, but for me we need to strengthen those laws right now. We need to actually have real criminal consequences.” Read more about Senator Akbari’s efforts to build on and strengthen the landmark police reform bill enacted in the wake of the death of George Floyd in 2020.

A New Era for Richmond

This week, NewDEAL Leader Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney delivered his state of the city address, highlighting his ongoing equity agenda and how new investments in housing, economic growth, and public safety initiatives will make a difference for his community. In addition, Mayor Stoney laid out new programs to: spur further economic growth, building on infrastructure improvements; support students, including a pilot program to help get high school graduates through community college; and boost public safety with plans to tackle gun violence along with police recruitment, retention and accountability. “Our past is no longer leading our present. Now, we are leading our future,” Stoney proclaimed. “A future that includes all Richmonders, no matter the color of their skin, whom they pray to or whom they love.” Read more about Mayor Stoney’s State of the City address here.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Michigan: Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist – $10 million microloan program

ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Michigan: Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist announced the launch of a $10 million microloan program for women, veterans, and entrepreneurs of color to start businesses throughout the state. The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund, which is made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act’s expansion of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), aims to build the state’s economy by diversifying small businesses and supporting nontraditional entrepreneurs who may struggle to access traditional loans.

ARPA: New Bedford Supporting the Arts and Culture Sector

With the goal of helping artists and arts and culture organizations emerge stronger from the pandemic than they were before, the Mayor Jon Mitchell and the city of New Bedford allocated over $1.1 million of its ARPA funds three separate initiatives: Wicked Cool Places, Art is Everywhere, and ARTnet.

Wicked Cool Places and Art is Everywhere are pre-existing programs designed to build the arts and culture sector in New Bedford through direct grants to artists and organizations, prioritizes creative placemaking and place-keeping projects and arts-based economic development projects that advance diversity. Unique to the ARPA-supported funding rounds, these programs will also prioritize projects that provide creative arts-based solutions to pandemic-related challenges, such as projects that enhance the use of outdoor spaces.

ARTnet—a new initiative by NBCreative—is an artist recovery and training network, providing economic and professional support for artists to create a sustainable business in a post-COVID economy. The goal of ARTnet is to help artists recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic by providing financial support, business planning support, training workshops, and access to a network of creative entrepreneur peers. NBCreative plans to support 100 artists over the life of the grant.

ARP: Hartford expand Reentry Welcome Center to Support Individuals Returning to Society After Incarceration

Mayor Luke Bronin and the City of Hartford utilized $900,000 in ARPA grant funding to expand and open a new location for their Reentry Welcome Center, which supports individuals returning to society after incarceration in their transition back into community life. The Reentry Welcome Center, a collaboration between the city and Community Partners in Action, first opened in 2018 at City Hall and has assisted more than 1,000 people. With the new location, which includes community meeting space and a computer lab, the Reentry Welcome Center will have the capacity to help even more people — including those on probation and parole — and add additional programming for pre-release services.

ARP: Hartford CT, Expands Youth Programs to Address Learning Loss and Isolation

Youth Service Corps

Hartford Connecticut Mayor Luke Bronin used $1.5 million in ARPA funding to grow the city’s Youth Service Corps (YSC) which connects young people to part-time, year-long employment opportunities with flexible scheduling. Since its launch in July 2016, the Youth Service Corps has provided over 1,500 Hartford youth with an opportunity to earn a paycheck while engaging in community service-based projects, such as lawn care services, snow removal for senior citizens, and the refurbishment and distribution of donated computers. The ARPA Funds have allowed 100 additional participants per year, allowing the program to serve 350 young people annually.


UNITY Grants

To combat the isolation young people faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Bronin launched the UNITY (Understanding the Needs In Today’s Youth) grant program to support a wide variety of youth programming services and events. Over $3.3 million in ARPA funding has been invested in programs working with youth who are justice-involved, disengaged, or disconnected from their community, through everything from youth sports and the arts to civic engagement, work skills development, computer literacy, mental health and wellness, and mentoring and tutoring.


Equity Initiative: House Minority Leader Driskell Backs Bipartisan Police Reform Bill

Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell carried a bipartisan police reform bill through the committee’s process, earning unanimous support. After months of negotiations with the Legislative Black Caucus, HB 7051 was approved in order to increase transparency and establish more accountability measures into police departments. Driskell pushed the bill in response to citizens’ demands to end the trend of the killing of unarmed Black people. The national attention that sparked protests around the nation revealed the need for greater public safety, which required legislation to ensure that all officers were mentally astute and properly trained in de-escalation techniques. The bill would allow law enforcement agencies to create stricter policies, such as banning chokeholds or requiring officers to report use of force that results in injury or death. House Democratic leaders say they will continue to have conversations with citizens about how the police force can best serve community members.

ARP: Denver Proposed a Targeted Basic Income Program That Would Give $1,000 Monthly

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proposed a targeted basic income program that would give $1,000 monthly to qualifying residents. He asked the City Council to dedicate $2 million of the remaining ARPA funds to women and families living in homeless shelters. Denver already has a UBI-inspired program that disburses monthly payments of $1,000 to 260 people, $500 to 260 people, and $50 to 300 people, funded through a $5.5 million allocation of the city’s budget, according to the Denver Voice. Hancock’s proposal would assist an additional 140 qualified residents to receive $1,000 monthly payments.

ARP: Oakland County MI, Workforce Programs Helps Cover Costs of School/Trainings

Since launching a program in May 2022, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter‘s Oakland80 initiative continues to be successful in placing Career and Education Navigators throughout the county. By removing the barriers to education and training, the initiative has worked hand-in-hand with the Oakland County Michigan Works! local workforce development office to help county residents on their journeys toward successful careers. In their first seven months of working with residents, the Oakland80 navigators have connected with more than 700 residents at more than 200 events around Oakland County and provided in-depth counseling, coaching, and education services to almost 200 people.

Oakland County also allocated American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide direct education and employment supports to residents. Since November 2021, 379 people have received Supportive Services which removed 572 barriers which had prevented them from participating in education, training, and employment related activities. This effort has included support for educational materials, books, fees, housing, transportation, work-related tools and expenses, and more. Oakland County also initiated scholarship programs that not only cover the cost of education, but also the childcare costs that cause so many students to struggle to continue their studies. Since November of 2021, 642 people have received child care scholarships and 295 have gotten education scholarships.

Impact Testimony:

  • The navigators assisted a low-income single mother and post-secondary student, who was working part-time as a housekeeper. Because of COVID, the hospitality industry was hit hard, and the woman had her hours reduced. She had difficulty keeping up with payments and fell behind on her utilities. The staff was able to assist with supportive services and other resources so that she could stay in her housing, pay her utilities and continue her education and training. She received an associate’s degree last year, got a job as a Child Care Specialist and enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Work program in the fall. 
  • An unemployed youth completed a 12-week Robotics training at Oakland Community College that was paid for through a partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works! When he graduated from the training, he was offered a job as an auto body collision apprentice, with Oakland80 purchased the tools for him. He got the job once the apprenticeship was over.
  • A part-time employee and full-time post-secondary student was on the verge of having to drop out of school in her last semester of an associate’s degree program in nursing because of an accumulated student loan debt of more than $4,500. An honor student, Oakland80 and Michigan Works teamed up to help cover the tuition costs, fees, loan debt, books, testing and licensing. She received a Registered Nurse License from the State of Michigan in July and found employment at a hospital in August.

ARP: Providence Announced the Approval of a $10 Million COVID-19 Equity Program Budget

Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the approval of a $10 million COVID-19 Equity Program Budget by the City Council. The City Council and Elorza Administration are partnering with United Way to construct a COVID-19 Equity Fund, which uses over $1.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars. The program aims to close racial wealth and equity gaps within Providence.  “The Municipal Reparations Commission and community members dedicated extensive time and efforts to outline their 11-point investment plan. I know that the budget is driven by the needs and priorities of the community and it will move the ball forward in closing the existing racial wealth and equity gaps,” added Mayor Jorge Elorza.