Some Black women who run various nonprofit organizations formed a coalition to combat domestic violence in Prince George’s County, which has led the state of Maryland the past several years in homicides from domestic violence.
The newly formed group, Coalition of Women Against Domestic Violence and Abuse, also demand accountability from county officials who’ve awarded $1.2 million in grants the past two fiscal years.
“What we saw physically missing [among applicants] were Black women organizations,” said Sandra Pruitt, executive director of People for Change Coalition and a staunch critic of the grant process. “When we look at who is most impacted by domestic violence it’s Black women.”
According to a list of grantees that received money from the county council and the county executive’s office, the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County received the second-highest amount at $195,630. Officials with the center, which provides the county’s only temporary housing for those involved in domestic violence relationships, reopened the shelter Feb. 9 after it shut down in December to repair the damaged structure.
Other groups that received money from both council and the executive’s office included the Affiliated Sante Group at nearly $200,000 and Community Advocates for Family and Youth with almost $192,000. The remaining nine grantees received grants from council either last fiscal year, or the current fiscal year.
County Councilman Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington said Friday, March 9 Pruitt “has a valid concern” about the domestic violence grant program.
“I think we need to come up with a way to have a system where new folks can get in and be a part of that grant process,” said Patterson, who’s running for state senate in District 26. “We do have a number of groups we give money to year after year after year. At some point, somebody ought to graduate and get out of that program and be able to go out on their own.”
Debyii Sababu-Thomas, who runs God’s Winning Women Worldwide Ministries, a Largo-based nonprofit, reviewed the coalition’s goals during a domestic violence town hall at Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday, March 8.
Some of the objectives:
• Create opportunities that establish partnerships;
• Host education events such as workshops, town halls and webinars; and
• Equip survivors with techniques and resource to improve their lives.
Besides increasing scrutiny of council’s disbursement of grants, another plan will focus on ways to bring domestic violence programs to churches.
Krystal Oriadha, co-chair of Progressive Maryland’s county chapter and County Council candidate for District 7, suggested the county incorporate grants “to uplift” smaller and first-time nonprofits.
“How do we rework the grants? The way it’s written it closes out a lot of organizations from getting it,” she said.
As part of the application process, each organization must use grants toward housing, prevention, counseling and/or advocacy.
According to the 22-page application to receive a portion of $500,000 for fiscal 2018, the requirements that must be met include: specifying how many people will benefit from a particular project; a description of an organization’s fiscal management disbursement methods, financial reporting, recordkeeping and accounting procedure; and describing plans to seek new funding to supplement council funding.
The application also warns even with all of the paperwork in order, an application isn’t guaranteed approval because funds are limited.
A proposal analysis team reviews each application “to ensure that all outlined eligibility requirements are met.”
Councilwoman Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi said in an email she doesn’t see any confusion in how grants are awarded.
“There is a process,” she said. “Folks submit by deadline and are awarded accordingly.”
Meanwhile, the council’s Health, Education and Human Services committee held a meeting Feb. 7 for organizations that received fiscal year 2017 grants to update their projects.
Two weeks later on Feb. 21, the committee received an update on the Family Crisis Center established in 1981.
Michele Williams, interim director of the center, said the county’s Department Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement identified 10 violations at the shelter to repair the heating, plumbing and fire safety systems.
Besides a proposal for the center to merge or partner with Community Crisis Center Inc., she also made a request for annual, dedicated funding of $150,000 for base operations.
“We don’t believe that minimum should be the standard,” said Williams, who runs a consulting business that primarily works on homelessness and human services. “We want a facility that is safe and functional and operational to the best to our ability.”