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Jackson County Awards $1.5 Million To Bolster Youth Employment And Domestic Violence Programs

DeLa Salle Director Sean Stalling talks about the Block 37 program during a press conference at DeLa Salle Education Center on Wednesday.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
DeLaSalle Director Sean Stalling talks about the Block 37, a youth employment program, during a press conference at DeLaSalle Education Center on Wednesday.

Jackson County will award almost $1.5 million to local agencies to address domestic violence and youth employment. The Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax (COMBAT) program will distribute the money to 24 agencies.

COMBAT provided two rounds of emergency funding last year, but this is the first time the program has provided mid-year funding, which will help offset budget shortfalls for agencies with critical needs.

“They were looking for a client advocate and they didn’t have the money for it,” COMBAT Director Vince Ortega said. “They needed that client badly because of the pandemic and the caseload they had, and that’s where COMBAT comes in.”

One of the programs is the Block 37 program, an after-school paid internship initiative at DeLaSalle Education Center.

The school’s director, Sean Stalling, said investing in his students will be invaluable to Kansas City.

“Our students in this city are not vulnerable,” Stalling said. “That’s a deficit mindset; the thing that they are, they’re untapped potential.”

Block 37 started this spring, and Stalling said the additional $146,361 from COMBAT will allow the program to continue for another year.

Students over 16 can earn up to $90 a week while gaining job skills in the program. The program’s director, Lisa Griffin, said handing students their pay is rewarding.

“I get to give students their payment,” Griffin said. “So, every two weeks they would come in and sign in their name, and just giving them the gift cards and seeing the smiles on their face.”

Along with Block 37, there are 14 other youth employment programs receiving mid-year funding.

There are also nine domestic violence agencies receiving funding. One of those is the Rose Brooks Center which provides shelter for adults, children and pets.

Lisa Fleming is the chief operating officer at Rose Brooks. She said domestic violence rates increased significantly during the pandemic.

“It is imperative that as a caring community, we recognize that the safety risk and the need for COMBAT-funded safety interventions for survivors and their families persists in our community,” Fleming said.

DC Benincasa is a news intern at KCUR 89.3.
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