City of Memphis rolls out several grants to support MLK50 efforts, neighborhoods crime watch

The City of Memphis has rolled several new grant programs in September. $10,000 will go towards events organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Additional funds are available to support neighborhood crime prevention and provide long-needed retirement benefits to the living participants of the 1968 sanitation workers strike.

An additional dozen 1968 sanitation workers identified to collect retirement grants

Another 12 grants will be awarded to workers who participated in the historic 1968 sanitation strike by the City of Memphis. The move is touted by the city as a step toward financial security for the former workers.

With the addition, 26 workers have been earmarked to receive $70,000 grants in preparation for the 50-year commemoration of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a city-wide effort that has been dubbed MLK50. The yearlong commemoration will recognize the late civil rights leaders, as well as the strike that first drew Dr. King to Memhis.

Initially, 10 retirees and four active employees were identified and acknowledged by the city when the initiative was first announced on July 14.

Related: "Fifty years later, sanitation workers see fruit of their labor with addition of retirement benefits"

Thirty-six more came forward since the announcement. Twelve were deemed ineligible by the city’s Human Resources division.

"When the grants were first awarded, we anticipated there could be additional recipients and we let the City Council know that we would likely be coming back to them to approve the funding," said Ursula Madden, City of Memphis chief communications officer.

To verify the grants, the city poured through employee records. The HR department sought to verify grantees were full-time employees at the time of the strike. They also had to be eligible to retire after 25 years of service, as well as be ineligible to receive a pension from the city.

Those denied have until October 1 to provide further documentation.

The grants will cost the city an additional $1.1 million.

The city council will address the latest grants on April 19, 2018.

$10,000 grants on the horizon to go toward 'positive social change' leading up to MLK50

In further MLK50 news, the city of Memphis has awarded $10,000 in grants to fund programs and community events during next year’s commemoration.

Mayor Jim Strickland, along with the city council, established the grants to support the projects and programming planned for celebration.

The grants were awarded in the hopes of encouraging social change. They will build upon the theme of the National Civil Rights Museum, “Where do we go from here?” Areas of focus will be poverty, youth, jobs, economic development, community empowerment, nonviolence, and justice and peace.

Related: "City's largest investment in public art honors 1968 sanitation workers' strike"

Events will begin in January and end with the April 4 commemoration of Kings death. The remembrance will be held at the Lorraine Hotel, where King was killed. 

Applications for the in grants will be accepted through September 30. Recipients will be notified on November 1. Half of the funds will be provided up front. The remaining will be allotted after the submission of an action report following the event.

The budget for the grants is $100,000.

Memphis neighborhoods get help with crime prevention initiatives

The City of Memphis has awarded crime prevention grants to several neighborhoods. Glenview, Berclair, Hyde Park and Sea Lake are among the 16 neighborhoods to receive the $2,500 grants, which can be used for programs and equipment.

Whitehaven is among the neighborhoods using the funds to address domestic violence. 

This is the second year in a row that the community has received the grant. The program has already proved effective. Marianne Bell, assistant district attorney, said the area has brought down domestic violence by 25 percent. 

Related: "New community organization focuses on self-sufficiency in Orange Mound"

"Data shows that a neighborhood that's engaged, has a neighborhood watch formed and active ... they have less crime than other neighborhoods," said Mayor Jim Strickland.

The money for the grants comes from traffic tickets issued by the city’s red light cameras.

Some neighborhoods are using their money to put up security cameras, hold awareness programs or sponsoring a National Night Out.

"I know of individual situations where a camera has helped apprehend an individual," according to MPD Police Director Mike Rallings.

So far, over $277,000 has been doled out to over 100 neighborhood associations.

“This is one piece of the puzzle, we've got a crime plan that we're working and one of those pieces is to get neighborhoods more engaged," said Strickland.

The deadline to apply for a grant is November 15.

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