Staff Editorial

SET Fund has powerful potential for innovation

Aerial view of downtown Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Aerial view of downtown Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 29, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Linn County is embarking on a bold experiment in the power of community collaboration.

The newly established Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Fund is jointly funded by the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, and the Cedar Rapids Community School District. It will offer grants pursuant to the SET Task Force recommendations, which aim to stymie the rise of violence among teens and young adults in Cedar Rapids.

The deadline to submit grant proposals is March 27. Application and grant information are available at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation website, gcrcf.org. We strongly encourage anyone interested to apply.

This special fund can offer badly needed resources for projects that are not well served by traditional funding sources and nonprofits. In fact, only new programs or those specifically adapted for the SET objectives are eligible to receive funding.

Organizers have put forth a promising set of funding priorities. They will favor proposals that integrate youth leadership, fill gaps in existing services and address barriers to participation, such as child care and transportation.

This first set of grant recipients have an important charge. The program puts an emphasis on new and innovative models for violence prevention, and the results will help inform future efforts in the community.

These are encouraging developments, but it has been a long and frustrating process to get to this point.

The 2015 shooting death of a 15-year-old boy underscored the need for a concerted communitywide response to address violence and poverty. The SET Task Force presented its recommendations to local leaders more than two years ago, but there initially was no plan to turn the recommendations into action.

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Since the underlying issues transcend jurisdictional lines, no one government entity is equipped to address them alone. The decision last year by the city, county and school district to provide seed funding for the SET Fund was a crucial step.

The greater Cedar Rapids community finally has a tangible framework to start realizing the vision established by the SET Task Force. Now the real work begins.

When grant recipients are selected this spring, we call on all local residents to take an active interest in their success. Look for opportunities to volunteer or donate, and make sure local elected officials know you value the SET Fund’s objectives. Meaningful progress must be a communitywide endeavor.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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