Minutes of the Meeting between IDHS-OFVP and Waukegan-North Chicago cluster, January 5, 2023

Thursday, January 5, 2023 1:30-2:30 pm



  1. Sara Knizhnik - Lake County Board Member; LAC member
  2. Jennifer Yonan - Executive Director, Youth Conversation Corps; LAC member
  3. Eric Rinehart - Lake County State's Attorney Office; LAC member
  4. Dr. Mary Roberson - LAC member
  5. Leah Hatcher - Ant Mount Foundation; LAC member
  6. Patricia Theodore - A Safe Place for Help; LAC member
  7. Maggie Morales - Lake County Community Foundation; LAC member
  8. Malik Kemokai - Curt's Café; LAC member
  9. Mark Pfister - Lake County Health Department; LAC member
  10. McKenzie Wade - Senator Adrienne Johnson's office
  11. Steve Spagnolo - Lake County State's Attorney Office
  12. ReGina Moore - Legacy Reentry Foundation
  13. Dylan Olthoff- State Rep Mayfield's Office
  14. Maggie Roche - Rep. Joyce Mason's office
  15. George Bridges - Chief of Staff Waukegan
  16. Xavier Martillo - Haven Youth and Family Services; potential provider
  17. Mayor Ann Taylor - current Waukegan mayor
  18. Chris Patterson - IDHS-OFVP, Assistant Secretary
  19. Dana Kelly - IDHS, Chief Policy Officer
  20. Awisi Bustos - IDHS, Senior Policy Advisor
  21. Reshma Desai - IDHS, Senior Policy Advisor
  1. Opening/RPSA Progress Update
    • Assistant Secretary Christopher Patterson welcomed everybody and introduced himself as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP) at the Department of Human Services.
    • He also introduced the Reimagined Public Safety Act (RPSA) which created the OFVP and has made a historic commitment of $250 million investment to address firearm violence across the State of Illinois. The goal of RPSA and the meeting is to deepen OFVP's relationship with youth development services providers that worked previously with IDHS and also add new services that will address firearm violence and its holistic root causes.
    • From the original $250 million funds, Assistant Secretary said there's a little under $70 million that was committed for fiscal years 23 and 24. An overview of the grants awarded showed that 28 grantees were awarded with violence prevention funds in Chicago; 22 grantees awarded with youth development funds statewide; six technical assistance grantees statewide; four high risk youth intervention in Chicago; and 21 conveners in Chicago.
    • Assistant Secretary said that one of the unique things that the OFVP is doing with the programming and funding opportunity is that for every single entity that is funded thru RPSA, they'll receive technical assistance thru a training organization. He mentioned Ernst and Young, an accounting firm that works with the State to support potential providers and those who are already selected in terms of reporting and financial requirements. He added that even though all the NOFOs have closed, they are still looking for applicants, the OFVP wants organizations to prepare and partner with the State and address firearm violence on a holistic approach.
  2. The Local Advisory Process
    • In accordance with RPSA, the OFVP convened 16 Local Advisory Councils (LACs) in the 16 Greater Illinois municipalities including Waukegan and the North Chicago area, with more than 150 members across the State. All 16 LACs provided their inputs and recommendations unique to their respective communities on how to best allocate funds to reduce firearm violence. The OFVP summarized the recommendations into strategies which can be found in the IDHS website. Assistant Secretary mentioned that the OFVP did not want to dictate all the municipalities on what they should do to clean up their neighborhood and make it a safer place, which is why each LAC made their own recommendations for their own neighborhood.
  3. Recommendations - Primary Findings
    1. Support for comprehensive violence prevention services that includes street outreach, victim services, and case management.
      • Assistant Secretary said the State has created funding that would allow organizations to interact directly with people who are trapped in the cycle of violence such as individuals involved in gang activity, street activity and violence. The street outreach workers would be the individuals who established those relationships with individuals who were trapped in the cycle of violence. The case managers would support the street outreach workers in identifying the needs of the individuals. In the victim service, individuals would work with people who have been wounded because of firearm violence and, or unfortunately the families of those who have lost loved ones.
    2. The need for a flexible source of youth intervention funding that would target a broad age range of youth most at risk of being involved in community violence.
      • Assistant Secretary mentioned that while the OFVP does not plan on sunsetting the Teen Reach program, the office will support the LAC recommendation to have innovative ideas around reaching young people trapped in the cycle of violence, involved in the justice system, young people who are in the streets, young people who are headed in the wrong direction.
    3. The need for additional trauma informed behavioral health supports that specifically target those individuals (primarily youth) most at risk of being involved in community violence.
      • Assistant Secretary said that it is important to create a foundation of addressing people's trauma and mental health issues that may exist in individuals who are trapped in a cycle of violence. He shared that in the past, he used to advocate for providing jobs to people who were victims of violence. While providing jobs is important, the cycle will continue if because of some unforeseen circumstance, the individual gets fired from the job.
    4. Continued investment in traditional models of youth development that focus on engaging school involved youth and optimizing personal and educational outcomes
      • Assistant Secretary mentioned Teen Reach again as an example of the traditional model that OFVP will continue to support.
  4. Recommendations - Other Findings
    • Assistant Secretary said that one of the resounding recommendations across the board was to address racism and historical disinvestment in communities, such as Waukegan and North Chicago. Violence doesn't happen overnight and is not segregated. He said that people have to think deeply as to why violence is happening and so OFVP wants to look at financial stability and mobility, why individuals are not in school, housing issues, and others.
    • Another finding is the need for technical assistance and support for smaller organizations. Assistant Secretary said that while large organizations will still be funded if eligible, the OFVP also wants to engage smaller organizations such as those who have never gotten funding from the State or any substantial funding streams. Aside from OFVP's support, Assistant Secretary also mentioned that IDHS is tapping the Ernst and Young organization, an accounting firm that can assist smaller organizations in terms of application requirements and fiscal reporting.
    • Finally, Assistant Secretary said that traditional partners in the communities will be included as well such as the schools, law enforcement, healthcare institutions, park districts, cultural partners and other non-profits that are doing violence prevention work.
  5. NOFO Service Offerings
    1. The NOFO Service Offerings include the Youth Development Greater Illinois which is for the young people in the community. Assistant Secretary said that this includes the traditional youth development services that will keep young people busy after school, during the weekends, holidays and summer. This NOFO will make sure that organizations will have the tools and safe space for the young people. The application is closed but Assistant Secretary said that IDHS made the NOFOs on a rolling basis which means that the NOFOs will be reopened after the grants have been awarded in the previous round. The NOFOs will be open indefinitely as long as there are funds available. He added that organizations will be notified when the NOFOs will come out.
    2. The next NOFO is the Violence Prevention Greater Illinois which include victim services, case management and other supports for those at highest risk of harming or being harmed by gun related violence. For victim services, organizations will work with families who have lost loved ones in gun violence; street outreach will help reduce potential retaliation when shootings happen; and other supports that will provide what the victims need. Assistant Secretary added that skilled case managers are needed for this NOFO to connect individuals to resources that they would need after the incidence.
    3. Another NOFO is the Youth Intervention Greater Illinois, which is for high-risk youth and includes mentoring, employment skills development, life skills development, assistance with accessing education/ vocational programming and employment, as well as other activities that promote positive engagement.
    4. Finally, the Trauma Informed Behavioral Health Services NOFO which includes mental and behavioral health interventions that address trauma recovery and other mental health improvements, specifically to mediate the high correlation between family adversity, trauma and violence, and subsequent involvement in gun related activity.
  6. Other NOFO Opportunities
    • Assistant Secretary also shared the NOFO on technical assistance, training and capability building which is intended for organizations that have the ability to train on knowhow and the best practices to help other organizations become better providers of youth development and violence prevention services.
    • Another NOFO is the Greater Illinois Violence Prevention Council Coordinator NOFO which is a continued form of support for the LACs. The organization selected will continue to keep and expand its group making sure that they are interaction with other groups in their community. The OFVP wants related organizations to support each other in helping their community.
    • Finally, IDHS is ensuring that municipalities have access to its resources that address the root causes of community violence including economic opportunity, racial discrimination, housing, family violence and food insecurity. OFVP wants to make sure that thru LACs and other partners, community stakeholders are educated on how to access IDHS fundings and services that target areas of need.
  7. Translating Recommendations to Funding - Layered Strategy
    • The OFVP has the authority to grant up to $100M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to Greater Illinois municipalities in FY23 and FY24. Considering this unprecedented investment, OFVP and IDHS must carefully balance three considerations when allocating funds: 1) LAC input; 2) area capacity; and 3) area need. Assistant Secretary said that the OFVP does not want providers to change their model to fit another model. For example, if the organization is a strong youth provider, OFVP wants that provider to continue get funding and support. He added that OFVP wants providers to stay in the line and do the important work that they are doing. The other consideration, area need is the reason how OFVP came up with the capacity building NOFO and the Coordinator NOFO. The office wants to meet the needs specific to the area such as Waukegan and North Chicago.
  8. Capacity
    • Assistant Secretary said that the effort on capacity is in part in particular for smaller organizations and those who may be new to State funding. The first round of funding was dedicated in assessing the need and capacity of organizations and the 2nd round will be to determine what adjustments need to be made in order for organizations to fulfill their mission.
    • In the side of the LACs, the OFVP would like them to revisit their asset mapping to find out what is working and what is not working in their municipalities and then develop recommendations as to where capacity building is needed.
    • Assistant Secretary also mentioned that IDHS has contracted the accounting firm, Ernst and Young to work with organizations in building capacity in terms of financial reporting requirements. IDHS is also providing technical assistance and training and conducting community organizing to build capacity in the municipalities.
  9. Funding Approach
    • The first round of funding, as previously mentioned, was intended in part to assess capacity. In round 2, Assistant Secretary said there should be capacity questions arising such as, are the numbers of outreach workers enough to tackle the problem and would it suffice for the next round, are there are other opportunities to meet the needs that were not anticipated in the first round, etc.
  10. Spread the Word
    • OFVP is encouraging everybody to spread the word about the funding opportunities and also let the community know that there are organizations working and have partnered with IDHS to fight firearm violence. It's important that they know that something is happening and that RPSA is real thing. Assistant Secretary also asked everybody to bring in more providers who are doing the work and let them there are funding opportunities at IDHS.
  11. Next Steps
    • Assistant Secretary reiterated that the OFVP is asking everybody to spread the word about the funding opportunities and to ramp up capacity building efforts to ensure that organizations are equipped to successfully apply and secure grants. He stressed that IDHS provides capacity building, training and support to help organizations in the pre- and post-award phases of the funding application. He also reiterated that the LAC is asked to revise and complete their community asset mapping to determine where the strengths and gaps are. He also encouraged everybody to identify and encourage larger organizations in the community to explore primary and sub recipient relationships with smaller organizations. Assistant Secretary explained that not all small providers are going to be in position to apply for funding from the State for many reasons and so OFVP is asking larger organizations that historically have been able to secure funding from the State to take under their wings the smaller organizations so that they can build capacity and go on their own in the future.
  12. Question and Answer
    1. Assistant Secretary shared the website links for all the resources that are available for providers and LACs and then opened the table for questions.
    2. Maggie Morales asked for more information on the level of technical assistance that's provided for organizations that are wanting to pursue funding but are not quite ready.
      • Assistant Secretary said one of the assistances is on the pre-GATA qualification. He mentioned that IDHS held an online training on it to help organizations prepare for the requirements of application.
      • Dana Kelly, IDHS Chief Policy Officer mentioned that there is a link in the IDHS website for a webinar that was held in December by Ernst and Young. The webinar walks through all the requirements that are needed to begin an application, one of which is the GATA requirement. She also mentioned that the NOFOs are still posted on the website even though they have closed but the description should give everyone a good sense of the content that OFVP is looking for in an application.
    3. Ms. Morales asked if prospective applicants will be able to directly contact Ernst and Young with any additional questions.
      • Ms. Kelly said yes and mentioned that OFVP is actually compiling all questions and will be posted alongside the webinar link.
    4. Mr. Dylan Olthoff from the office of Representative Rita Mayfield asked if OFVP will be sending out flyers notifying people about the grants.
      • Ms. Kelly said that the dates for the new NOFOs have not been announced yet but there are existing flyers about the old NOFOs which also contain some information about the previous rounds and due dates. She said the NOFOs will hopefully be re-released in February and once the new dates for the NOFOs are set, the media tool kit will be shared to everybody.
    5. Mr. Olthoff asked about the potential turnaround on the NOFOs and the application.
      • Ms. Kelly said the office is committing before July 2023 that the second round will be over. She shared that the office has been processing responses as fast as they can so they can send out the funding notices. She apologized on behalf of the office for the delay.
    6. Mr. Mark Pfister recommended to make the fiscal year clear on the NOFO because people don't understand the State's fiscal year. She suggested to put just the year 2023 to make it clear as much as possible. Ms. Kelly agreed.
    7. Mr. Malik Kemokai asked if OFVP is entertaining partnerships or if there have been any so far.
      • Assistant Secretary said yes and said that he has seen smaller organizations come together in the violence prevention space for example, an organization doing victim service and case management subcontracted another organization to do street outreach. He shared that doing partnership will make for a stronger team and so when there's an opportunity and if it makes sense for an organization, he asked organizations to consider doing partnerships.
    8. Dr. Mary Roberson shared that she is excited to hear about collaborations and partnerships being part of the initiative.
      • Assistant Secretary reiterated that OFVP is encourage subcontracting and partnerships but it's also okay for an organization to stand alone by itself. Ultimately however, RPSA requires that providers are intentionally working together whether they get funded or on their own or thru a partnership.
    9. Ms. Morales asked if there's a listing of the applicants or organizations' collaborative that's made public prior to notifying recipients. She shared that she is thinking through the lens of promotion and how they can connect the dots with other organizations that are maybe unaware and know who is already aware.
      • Assistant Secretary said that they are now in the process of grading and reviewing applications and until those awards and those contracts are finalized, the results cannot be posted yet. But once the grants are awarded, the recipient organizations will be posted at the IDHS website. He added that not only the names of the organizations are posted but as well as the name of person and the phone number that can be contacted.
      • Ms. Kelly added that in terms of the order of operations, the office needs to issue the notice of award to the grantee. There is an extensive process of contracting and budgeting and all of it happens after the award notice goes out. The website is not updated until there is a contract in place and so that's why even though the notice of award has been issued, it takes a while before it shows up on the website. Ms. Kelly said however, that there is a list of grantees and Ms. Morales' organization and the OFVP can have an internal discussion to see if the list can be released or to see what kind of promotional things can be done.
    10. Ms. Morales shared that she represents a community foundation and they would not necessarily be pursuing funding themselves, but they want to ensure that their network of organizations is aware of the opportunity. She said it would be helpful to know who's already in the pipeline versus who's completely unaware and needs to be brought forward to participate or at least explore.
      • Ms. Reshma Desai added that if providers feel comfortable in providing information to each other, they are encouraged to do so, it will help them support each other in the next round.
      • Ms. Kelly mentioned that there were quite a few applications received from the Waukegan area and so they should be proud of their community for participating.
    11. Mr. Pfister asked how many applicants were there from their area and how many of those applications were GATA pre-qualified.
      • Ms. Desai said there aren't any that were explicitly denied because they weren't GATA pre-qualified. There may have been other eligibility issues with some of the applicants but GATA is not one explicit issue from Waukegan. Ms. Kelly said there were 17 total inquiries, five did not submit applications and so 12 submitted applications.
    12. Ms. Morales relayed a question from the Boys and Girls Club about the Coordinator NOFO and the timeline for the evaluation of those proposals from December.
      • Ms. Desai said they are getting very close on making the awards and on-selection notices. What happens is if the applicant is awarded, they receive the Notice of State Award through the data system. If they are not selected, they receive a letter from the Bureau of Violence Prevention which is also sent thru email. She also apologized for any delay and shared that staffing in the Bureau is limited but they are really trying to get the funds out and the programming out to all quickly as possible.
    13. Sara Knizhnik shared that she has just been elected to the Lake County Board and have been assigned to the Committee of Health and Community Services. She asked if OFVP or anyone in IDHS have given much thought to how County Boards across the State could be helpful in general but specifically through the Committee process like that.
      • Assistant Secretary shared that they have not heard from any such committee, but they have heard from varying bodies from different municipalities. However, he said that one of the easiest things to do is to create a space to bring in providers either virtually or in-person and allowing OFVP to come and then educate individuals around the process for applying. He suggested that committees like what Ms. Knizhnik mentioned can create a town hall atmosphere in which the OFVP could come in and then really paint the picture a little bit better. The organizations together with OFVP can brainstorm around other ways which could be more useful or more helpful in getting the word out and attracting other organizations.
      • Ms. Kelly added that the vision for the future of the LAC model, as well, as kind of what is happening at each local level is really to put more power into the LAC's hands to design and make things to be workable and feasible for the community. To whatever extent the County Board or any other folks want to take any leadership roles or find connections between boards, the OFVP would be happy to support and provide technical assistance that would allow the organizations do more in their level.
      • Ms. Knizhnik said she will put it in their agenda in the Board and make it a priority.
      • Ms. Kelly mentioned that if there were applicants from Waukegan for the Violence Prevention Coordinating Council NOFO, there will hopefully be one organization that will be selected to be the engine that drives the continuation of collaboration in the municipality.
  13. As there were no more questions, Assistant Secretary adjourned the meeting.