Minutes of the Virtual meeting with IDHS-OFVP and City of Aurora, September 2, 2022

September 2, 2022


via webex

Recording link


  1. Christopher Patterson - Assistant Secretary, Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, IDHS
  2. Reshma Desai - Bureau Chief, Bureau of Violence Prevention, IDHS
  3. Awisi Bustos - Senior Policy Advisor, IDHS
  4. Michael Isaacson - Aurora LAC Lead, Aurora Health Department
  5. Babatunde Beeks, Aurora LAC Member, STAR Program
  6. Javier Reyes - Aurora LAC Member, Challenge II Challenge
  7. Maria Garza - Challenge II Challenge
  8. Ricky Rodgers - African American Unity Organization
  9. Darrick Hicks - African American Unity Organization
  10. Molly Brennan - from the office of Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit
  11. Michelle Cianferri - from the office of Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit


  1. Assistant Secretary Christopher Patterson welcomed everybody and opened the meeting by giving the main purpose of the meeting which is to provide updates on RPSA and the direction that IDHS and the City of Aurora can go as it pertains to reducing fire and violence for our young people and people in community and restoring and hope
  2. OFVP and Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA) Progress Overview
    • Assistant Secretary Patterson mentioned the Governor's commitment of $100 million for Greater Illinois dedicated to RPSA and discussed how it is currently being allocated to different programs specifically, youth development, violence prevention, victim services, case management and summer programs. He also mentioned the first round of funding that IDHS conducted and gave an overview of the second round of funding that is currently in process.
    • Asst. Secretary discussed the different opportunities under the RPSA that related organizations can take advantage of. He stated that IDHS wants to fund more youth development programs through partnering with the Local Advisory Councils (LACs) and different providers in the municipalities. IDHS gets recommendations from the LACs and use them in modeling interventions.
    • Some of the recommendations from LACs were to support for comprehensive violence prevention, which included street outreach, victim service and case management. IDHS and the LAC will work with providers to give technical assistance and training so they can implement these kinds of programs. The next recommendation was a to have a flexible source of youth intervention funding which was actually done during the first round of funding in the youth development, the Teen Reach. Another recommendation is to address trauma behavior, health for young people, and people who have been impacted by fire environment. IDHS understands that trauma is a big hindrance and actually leads to more violence so the agency will make sure that whatever programming is decided, trauma and behavior health for young people will be one of the major aspects to be addressed. Asst. Secretary also said that the existing traditional models for teen reach programs will not be thrown away but rather, investment will be doubled for those kinds of programs.
    • Asst. Secretary also mentioned that IDHS is committed to making sure that a line of communication with the municipality is created and established so that disinvestment and racial [issues] are addressed. IDHS wants to make sure that it's giving technical assistance and trainings to different organizations in Aurora that goes along with implementing programs that IDHS and these organizations want to make. He emphasized that IDHS wants to create a partnership with Aurora and continue to make sure that partners are coming to the table feeling supported knowing that the IDHS funding is not exclusive to a few organizations but open to all.
  3. Programs and Resources Under RPSA
    • Bureau Chief, Reshma Desai discussed the ongoing services offering for Greater Illinois which are Violence Prevention Services and Youth Intervention Services while Trauma Informed Behavioral Health Services will be available very soon. Ms. Desai mentioned that Aurora submitted a letter of intent for Youth Development Teen Reach and they have until September 8th to submit the application.
    • Ms. Desai also mentioned that IDHS will be providing training and technical assistance on all of the service areas or grant program areas with existing training providers or new ones and that another NOFO will be coming out.
    • Another initiative that Ms. Desai mentioned is that IDHS will be issuing a competitive solicitation to select one agency to act as some sort of Violence Prevention Coordinating Council that will help expand and continue to do the work. The competitive solutions will ensure that residents across Illinois particularly in grant areas have a way of navigating IDHS services that can address root causes and IDHS wants to make sure that everyone has access to these services. Ms. Desai also said that IDHS will make sure that grantee providers know all the information and that they have a case manager or navigator or staff who will know how to connect participants to these services.
    • Ms. Desai reiterated the available funding for RPSA and that $100 million is set aside for the Greater Illinois area which is why IDHS really wants to know what type of funding communities needed or wanted to address. She mentioned that some communities have agencies that are ready to apply and provide services and are already doing so and then there's a lot of organizations that need some help which is why IDHS is building a process where capacity building support can be addressed.
    • In terms of capacity, Ms. Desai said that the responses from the 1st round of funding will allow IDHS to assess the capacity of service providers across Greater Illinois but the ones that are ready can begin providing services to communities that need them. IDHS will also continue to work with agencies that need capacity building either through the Ernst and Young Capacity Building or other training and technical assistance. The asset mapping done by the LACs will be revisited and LACs will be asked to continue providing recommendations to IDHS.
    • Lastly, Ms. Desai emphasized that the funding approach is in it's first round in Greater Illinois and is aligned with the recommendations from the LACs addressing capacity building as much as it can and addressing gaps in terms of funding. In terms of needs that were not addressed, there will be additional solicitation opportunities to ensure that the funding allocation recommendations are matched.
  4. Pritzker announcement
    • Awisi Bustos, Senior Policy Advisor clarified that the $100 million commitment that Governor Pritzker announced towards RPSA is not new or additional funding. Instead, it is a portion of the $250 million that was already committed towards violence prevention and RPSA throughout the State of Illinois. The announcement was made to inform communities that the State and OFVP are now making it available through the new NOFOs that Aurora should already be aware of.
  5. Aurora Gun Buy Back Event Update -Michael Isaacson, Aurora LAC Lead
    • Mr. Michael Isaacson, the lead person for Aurora LAC gave the updates on Aurora's Gun Buy Back Event.
    • The group started meeting back in March with a lot of additional partners. In terms of asset mapping, there was a lot of gun violence in Aurora in the late 90's but now, Aurora has the lowest rate of gun violence. So looking at the asset mapping, there are a lot of really strong resources in Aurora. Through the city, youth development programs are really robust. There is a nice formal resource guide that the city puts out every year with resources for youth. There is a strong faith community that has a lot of different churches who are working together to support youth and to support people in the community including some specific follow up when gun violence does occur, where there are people who come out and support people in the neighborhoods. There is a ministerial alliance in one of the LAC members. Dr. Peggy Hicks works with a Christian ministerial alliance with black churches in the rural area where there is a strong history of partnership there. There is a good mix of both the grassroots groups and the formal government. Mr. Isaacson said that his role at the County Health Department really is to be a convener and try to be a support for the work that's going on.
    • Mr. Isaacson said that he loves the approach the State's taking right now, how to lift up organizations that wouldn't be typically involved in this type of granting program so that they're involved in the work every day. He added that the program maybe something people aren't used to so Aurora has offered opportunities to help people work through it. He mentioned that there is one organization that is currently active which was not certified but the other organizations are getting certified which is some good news.
    • The Gun Buyback Program occurred last weekend and it was very successful. One hundred seventeen guns were removed from the streets. Mr. Isaacson said that gift cards given in exchange of guns were all donations. He shared that Aurora's state attorney's determination is that neither the Health Department, nor the sheriff should be using their own funds to provide gift cards to people for the gun program.
    • Mr. Isaacson mentioned they worked with a local church and a total of 117 guns were taken off the street. They realized that a lot of the weapons are from people who may not be actively involved in criminal activity but nonetheless could end up in the wrong hands.
  6. Question and Answer, Comments
    1. Mr. Ricky Rodgers of African American Men of Unity Organization expressed his appreciation for all the work that everybody is doing in the community and to the people leading the initiative.
    2. Mr. Babatunde Beeks of the START Program complimented the work that has been done and being done by Mr. Isaacson and the City of Aurora and thanked him for keeping together the Aurora LAC. Mr. Beeks added that he a very big proponent of community and working together, he recommended that more people are needed to chime in and be invested. He said that it will be more beneficial if there was at least some sort of core in place. However, he said, while everybody is involved, one of the problems he noticed is when one person is absent in the first meeting and attends the next one, time is wasted in reiterating or talking about again what have been discussed in the previous meeting. Mr. Beeks said that if there was a core that meets more often and when other people come in, it's not restarting like you're hopping in the car that's already been driving and we're at a decent speed.
      • Asst. Secretary said this will be addressed through a NOFO. It is not finalized yet but he mentioned that IDHS wants the LACs to last for the long term not just for the RPSA funding. IDHS wants to partner with Aurora and make sure that State agencies are connected to Aurora.
      • Ms. Bustos recommended that minutes of meetings should be available and posted in the website and so the responsibility of catching up and reading thru all the materials would fall on whoever is joining new. This should also be clarified prior to the start of any meetings or after the meeting to point them to those available resources.
    3. Mr. Darrcik Hicks of African American Unity Organization shared that he just recently joined the organization and that the meeting is very informational to him. He develops curriculum and school programs and mentors and coaches students and so knowing what's going on is important to him.
    4. Mr. Isaacson shared his appreciation on OFVP's openness to feedback and added that more grassroots type of organizations should be engaged. There is a need to have requirements and commonality in the process of collecting information. He suggested for IDHS to survey the grantees in terms of the NOFO application because he is surprised that there is not a lot of organizations that wants to be the lead agency while IDHS is offering a lot of money. He mentioned there must be something in the NOFO that is intimidating these organizations.
      • Asst. Secretary Patterson shared that a survey was done after the first round of funding. He said that maybe the window for applying was not long enough or maybe there was a lack of communication that is why they (organizations) did not know about the opportunities. But IDHS has been asking for inputs along the way trying to make pivots when it can. He agrees that the NOFOs can be intimidating and so what IDHS is asking is if there is an organization interested in applying, they can reach out to any of those who have experience or reach out to IDHS for technical assistance. He added that what IDHS also wants to do is meet the recommendations from the survey and align them in the 2nd round of funding and make sure that these are the right strategies; also determine if there are any gaps in the coverage or was there any matter left out during the 1st round. IDHS also wants to see successful programs in the municipalities and find whether these programs can work in other areas.
    5. Mr. Javier Reyes of Challenge II Challenge said that even though Aurora is the 2nd largest city in Illinois, it still has the small town feel to it, people can be involved in the community but still be disconnected. He suggested to have some kind of stipulation where you can use some of that money to hire a grant writer or someone who can guide you through the process. It will help a lot especially people who do not have experience and understanding in technical terms like himself because it wasn't something taught to them, not something they were engaged in and not around people who were doing it. Finally, he expressed his appreciation for the OFVP office for being open and always answering questions.
      • Ms. Bustos said they will continue working on the process to help organizations in the grant application. She shared the "You GATA Have It" training session on September 15th from 1:00 t0 3:00pm which is about the GATA prequalification process and the grant application process. She encouraged everybody to attend and share the event to other organizations.
  7. Next Steps
    1. Ms. Desai shared a little bit more information regarding the NOFO for behavioral trauma services that is coming out soon. She said she can't say a lot because it's going to be a competitive NOFO but the information on the slides are public and can be shared.
    2. Asst. Secretary also reiterated the NOFO on Violence Prevention which is live and application is due on September 16th. He encouraged everybody to ask youth development organizations to look at the NOFOs. He also encouraged existing providers to continue the work that they've been doing. He added about the upcoming behavioral health services that will be another opportunity for providers.
    3. Ms. Bustos asked everybody to share what have been discussed to other organizations and that funding opportunities are available and all eligible organizations are encouraged to apply. She also asked that LACs continue to ramp up capacity building efforts to ensure that organizations are well equipped to apply and secure grants. She also asked Aurora LAC to revise and complete their community asset mapping if they have not done so, and be prepared to submit a report if requested. She added that IDHS wants LACs to identify and encourage larger organizations in your communities to explore primary and sub recipient relationships with smaller organizations.
  8. VIII. Adjournment - Asst. Secretary Patterson closed and adjourned the meeting.