County signs anti-gang funding agreements with schools

YAKIMA - The Sunnyside and Toppenish school districts have been officially given the nod to facilitate how Yakima County Gang Resistance and Intervention Project grant funds are used.

The Yakima County commissioners this past Tuesday signed a formal agreement with the districts, which will receive $16,500 each for use in developing programs to address gang issues.

The funding was awarded to the county by the state of Washington and the cities chose to have the school districts facilitate the funds, according to Anna Marie Default, Yakima County prevention and communication mobilization coordinator.

She said the cities of Sunnyside and Toppenish believed the schools were already working toward the goal of working with youth to address gang-related issues. Because of that work, the municipal entities chose to enter into agreements with the schools, providing them access to the funding on behalf of the cities.

Sunnyside School District has on its staff Cathy Kelley, who serves as the community coordinator. She works with the city, the schools, the hospital and the Port of Sunnyside (the core conveners) and community work groups to address gang-related issues in Sunnyside.

Toppenish has developed its own programs to meet the requirements of the Gang Resistance and Intervention Project grant.

In addition to that funding, the Yakima County commissioners signed a second agreement with the two school districts on Tuesday.

That agreement is much the same in that the schools will serve as fiscal agents on behalf of their respective cities, facilitating as much as $10,500 awarded to the county for the Yakima County Community Delinquency Prevention Project.

The scope of the program includes developing a community planning process that uses the Yakima County gang assessment as a tool for program development.

That, too, is where Kelley's role as Sunnyside's community coordinator is valuable. The Sunnyside community coalition, which includes the core conveners and the work groups, is working with her to develop the planning process.

The Yakima County commissioners approved each of the agreements with the school districts by unanimous consent.


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