The city of Charlotte has set aside $30,000 for people or organizations with ideas to reduce crime, and it's planning to give the money out in $500 "micro-grants."
The new program is designed to help small organizations with new ideas about "conflict resolution and mediation" as well as life skills for children and their parents.
It was created after the Keith Scott protests in September 2016. The idea is to find people with innovative ideas, and give them a chance to succeed.
"If you know a way to help youth in the community, regardless of geography, we want to hear from you," said Willie Ratchford, the executive director of the city's community relations committee.
He said a group helping children learning to read might use the $500 to buy books, for instance.
Ratchford discussed the $500 grants at Monday's City Council meeting. He plans to offer three workshops in April for people or groups interested in the grants.
Demcoratic mayor pro tem Julie Eiselt, who chairs the public safety committee, said she hopes the grants would be a better approach than creating "another taskforce."
"Instead of creating a task force, which no one wants, why don't we go right to the neighborhood groups. They know what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong."
Democratic council member Braxton Winston said it might be too difficult for people to attend one of the meetings in person, and he asked whether they could apply electronically.
"I don't think it's necessary to see your face to grant you funding," Ratchford said. He said the city could meet recipients at a later date to evaluate their work.
Council member Greg Phipps, a Democrat, questioned whether it was a good idea to give people $500 without having met them in person.
Republican Tariq Bokhari said he's concerned whether the city will know if the program is working.
"You will be tracking 60 individuals simultaneously," he said. "That could be challenging."
Council members did not take a formal vote on the $500 grant program, but they endorsed it
Ratchford said it may be difficult to know whether the programs are succeeding.
"We may not be able to truly measure any true impact in the community," he said. "But we want to provide short-term cash infusions to bolster their programs. "
Applications are available online at http://charlottenc.gov/HNS/CE/Pages/JumpStart-Safety-Micro-Grants.aspx
or by contacting Lacey Williams at 704-336-2175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.