This post was written by Pascal Cristofalo, Promise Zone VISTA, Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity

A West Philadelphia Promise Zone partner has received a federal grant to enact a collaborative crime reduction strategy. Mount Vernon Manor CDC was awarded $999,990 in December by The Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA) under the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program.

The program is designed to “fund a strategic approach to crime reduction in local jurisdictions that leverages community knowledge and expertise to build public trust with law enforcement and make neighborhoods safer.” Twenty organizations received a total of $18.8 million across the United States. Mount Vernon Manor will be working closely with residents, stakeholders, and partners to carry out a multi-faceted strategy for improving safety and quality of life for Promise Zone residents.

The Promise Zone is no exception to Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis. In 2021, there was a 35.2 percent increase in shooting victims from 2020, which was already up 39.2 percent from 2019. Over the last 3 years, the Promise Zone has had one and a half times the number of shootings per capita compared to the rest of the city. This trend continues to inflict and exacerbate deep pain and trauma in residents’ lives. The BCJI grant will bring more resources to address the increasing rates of violence and to support those impacted by it.

The process begins with a six-month planning phase required by the BJA. This phase includes a focus on making sure that the proposed programs are in alignment with the values and vision of Promise Zone residents. Several local leaders have been brought together to form a grant management team. The Promise Zone’s Public Safety Committee will act as the team’s advisory committee. After the planning phase, Mount Vernon Manor and partner organizations will work through 2024 to implement the proposed programs.

You can find more information on the BCJI grant and its proposed programs on the BJA website.

If you are a Promise Zone resident or engaged with public safety work in the Promise Zone and would like to take part in this process, please email us at