Mayor Horrigan Announces Over $1.3M Awarded To Violence Intervention And Prevention Grant Recipients



Akron, Ohio, March 1, 2022 — Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced that the first Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Grants have been awarded to 11 local organizations working to prevent violence from occurring, stop the progression of violence, and rehabilitate individuals with a history of violent behavior. Mayor Horrigan is also proud to welcome North Akron native Denico Buckley-Knight as he begins his new role with the City as the Youth and Community Opportunity Director. Beginning today, Denico will serve as the City’s staff resource for violence reduction initiatives, community-based intervention, and coordination of a comprehensive effort to address youth violence.

“The eleven organizations that have been awarded these grants will play an integral part in our efforts to reduce youth and community violence in Akron,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “I believe it is our duty and responsibility to support organizations that are offering evidence-based programming to create a safer community, and the American Rescue Plan funding gives us the opportunity to do just that.”

Last year, Mayor Horrigan released his Five Point Framework for Community Violence Reduction in Akron. The Framework builds on the work of the Youth Violence Prevention Taskforce first convened in 2016 and focuses on the key pillars of: Prevention, Intervention & Support, Enforcement, Partnership & Advocacy, and Community Accountability.

As outlined in the Framework, the City will tackle youth and community violence with a robust, sustainable, culturally competent approach, building on the priorities established by the Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan. The City has set aside approximately $10 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, to provide grants and technical assistance to support eligible local organizations that are working in the violence prevention and intervention arena. This first round of grant funding totals $1,352,202.

First Round VIP Grant Recipients and Awards Include:

  • Battered Women’s Shelter - $100,000

  • Hire outreach coordinators to educate the community about their services and domestic violence prevention


  • Dreams Academy - $100,000

  • Hire personnel to expand mentoring services to young men, ages 10-15, and create a family resource center hub in Middlebury.


  • Citizen’s Akron Church - $100,000

  • Providing mentoring and after-school care for up to 100 families whose children attend Mason CLC


  • Victim’s Assistance Program, Inc. - $150,000

  • Providing funding for a victim’s advocate and an attorney stationed in Summit County Domestic Violence Court to assist domestic violence victims navigate the judicial system


  • Fallen Fathers Foundation - $100,000

  • Creating an Original Gangsters Mentoring Program to deter youth violence in the community. This program will also provide internships to youth to help deter violence.


  • Guys and Gals Community Partnership, Inc. - $100,000

  • Provide mentoring, job training and after school programming to 150 youth in the City of Akron.


  • Pastoral Counseling Services of Summit County - $166,244

  • Mentoring services to school aged youth in Akron Public Schools. Funds will provide financial support for an unfunded portion of the iCARE Mentoring program.


  • Project Grad - $169,500

  • Mentoring and afterschool programming for approximately 50 students beginning in 8th grade until 12th grade at: Buchtel Community Learning Center (25 students) and East Community Learning Center (25 students) and gradually increasing this number of participants every year until 2025.


  • South Street Ministries, Inc. - $119,558

  • Re-entry program for youth.


  • Williams Challenge - $33,900

  • Multiple 6 week mentoring programs for youth who have been incarcerated at the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center.


  • Alchemy Inc. - $213,000

  • Provide professional development to grassroots organizations that have been awarded ARPA funds to reduce violence.


Applications are now closed for this grant funding but will reopen in October 2022.

In addition to this first round of funding, the City has also hired Denico Buckley-Knight to take on the newly created role of Youth and Community Opportunity Director.

Denico Buckley-Knight attended North High School and was an accomplished student-athlete, receiving an athletic scholarship to attend and play football at Malone University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management and a minor in Coaching and Business from Malone.

Buckley-Knight served as a YMCA Sports & Program Director for over 12 years in both Akron and Canton. He is a Certified Community Health Worker who has served as a Site Manager for AxessPointe Community Health Center. He is also a Qualified Mental Health Specialist and has served as a Case Manager at Akron Buchtel High with Minority Behavioral Health Group.

Denico most recently served as a Family Resource Coordinator with the United Way of Summit/Medina County. Additionally, he has been employed with Akron Public Schools since 2009 as a Varsity Football coach and is entering his 7th Season as an Offensive Coordinator for Akron East High School. Denico is engaged to Adenike Gbadebo. They are the proud parents of three sons and one daughter.

In his new role, Denico will work with organizations within the nonprofit sector to identify and coordinate violence reduction programs using evidence-based research, best practices and new innovations with an intentional focus on reduction, prevention and intervention services to impacted populations. His priorities will include implementing the City’s Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan, facilitating a violence analysis to determine the neighborhoods and individuals most affected by violence, and coordinating both internally and externally to execute the strategic framework for violence reduction.

“I’m excited to welcome Denico to the team,” said Mayor Horrigan. “He has seen first-hand the areas of need in our community. And he will be instrumental in helping us to create a collaborative approach to lessening violence in Akron by making a more opportunity rich area for our youth and our community at large.”

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