901 BLOC Squad could lose funding

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A major non-profit that makes a difference in the community and is vital to the city of Memphis could lose funding.

We’re talking about 901 BLOC Squad Memphis.

It’s a prevention and intervention team working to decrease youth gun violence.

901 BLOC Squad stands for Better Lives, Opportunities and Communities.

“We do a lot of crime scene response, mentoring and we work with juvenile court. We got mentors that go in the courtroom with the kids and help them as an alternative or incarcerations,” 901 BLOC Supervisor Delvin Lane said.

They started with a team of five street intervention workers in 2012.

They expanded to 20, but recently had to let half of the staff go because funding for the organization is in jeopardy.

“We started off back in 2012 under the Bloomberg Grant, and that took us through three years. Then we had a private foundation that picked us up,” Lane said.

Lane says after that, they had a verbal commitment with the city, saying the non-profit would get $900,00.

“We only received half of the verbal commitment, which in the beginning we were told we would not get it at all.”

Come October, funding will run out if they don’t find new new options.

In 2017, the non-profit responded to 127 shootings, went to 38 community events, deterred 32 violent situations and managed 225 caseloads.

If they were forced to shut down, “You’ll see the crime skyrocket in the city I think,” Lane said.

Lane is a former gang member and says he and his staff still have great relationships in communities.

“A lot of the violent crimes you see on television, we’re there and we’re working in the communities silently to help stop retaliation,” he said. “These kids don’t have anybody. You’d be amazed how quickly they will latch on to an adult that cares, and the difference it makes in their lives.”

City spokeswoman Ursula Madden released a statement saying:

The leadership of 901 BLOC Squad presented the likelihood of this funding problem back in June. We told them then that we would wait to hear from them on specifics of their financial picture, so that we could ensure the right amount of City financial support would come to enable them to carry on with their work.

Also, we could not release money while internal audit was investigating an allegation against 901 BLOC Squad. The audit showed no wrongdoing however, they have been working over the last six months to strengthen their controls. Now that those controls are in place, we can release funding.

Make no mistake about it, we are committed to funding 901 BLOC Squad and absolutely plan to get the money to them so that they can continue their important work.

If you would like to make a donation to the non-profit, send checks or money orders to P.O. Box 664 Memphis, TN 38101.

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