BRAVE grant extension request denied; city officials adamant program will continue

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - City leaders have learned they will not receive a grant extension from the federal government that largely funds the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination program (BRAVE), mayor's office spokeswoman Janene Tate confirms.

Tate tells 9News city leaders were notified via phone earlier this month from the federal government and were waiting for a written confirmation she believes may not come.

Dr. James Gilmore, assistant chief administrative officer, says federal grant funds for BRAVE will expire at the end of the summer, but believes the program is far from over. "It's disappointing that we did not get the extension on BRAVE, but I must say that it doesn't mean that the work of BRAVE has ended," Gilmore added.

Praised by officials for cutting crime in the 70805 and 70802 neighborhoods over the years, BRAVE used a "boots on the ground" approach to go after gang violence and to prevent youth from making bad choices. Those programs and services are something Gilmore says must continue.

"We have to identify not only funding strategies, but we have to also find ways to broaden our partnerships," said Gilmore.

The program also promotes positive interactions with law enforcement and the people they serve.

Organizers say they will now have to be more creative to save a great deal of the hard work and progress, because the remaining $1.6 million federal grant, which funds the program, will expire September 30.

BRAVE began with a $1.5 million federal grant in 2012, and another $1 million grant in 2013 helped to expand the program. Other grants along the way have helped continue to expand the program, but when this grant expires, the main source of funding for the program will no longer exist.

"I wish that anyone that's listening to the news today will want to call and volunteer because we've really done so well and really too well to go back," said EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore.

A long-time advocate of the program, Moore says the good news is work from area law enforcement and his office is not dependent on the grant, but money for some of the extra expenses now has to come from somewhere else. "We've started a BRAVE 501c non-profit to hopefully take over the fundraising end of it to try to raise money to keep it going as it is," said Moore.

While he is confident the Baton Rouge community will deliver, Moore says it's important people see BRAVE as a shared responsibility. "Police cannot do this alone, the DA cannot do it alone, and the mayor cannot do it alone," Moore said. "It has to be from the community really and from the community up."

City leaders are confident it's a community effort that will stick around with or without federal dollars.

"I don't see any services being cut. I don't see any programs being cut either. I don't see our police department or our DA's office doing anything less," Gilmore added.

Early in her term, Mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome said she was fully committed to keeping the program successful.

A four-year evaluation of the BRAVE program is scheduled to be released sometime this week.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.