Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Receives Grant For Helping Our Partners Excel (HOPE) Project
Jan. 19, 2012



FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama was recently awarded a $272,939 grant to use in a project designed to reduce and prevent gun violence and crime in north Alabama, according to a press release by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

The Helping Our Partners Excel (HOPE) project includes three phases, which are training local law enforcement from 31 north Alabama counties, establishing school-based prevention programs and rehabilitation of criminals to avoid reentering violent lifestyles.

Lavonne S. Gatlin, director of UNA Continuing Studies and Outreach, is the principal investigator of Project HOPE. The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. It will be administered by the University of North Alabama's Department of Continuing Studies and Outreach, said Tanja Blackstone, director of UNA Sponsored Programs.

“This is a great opportunity for UNA to meet the objectives of the grant but it will also act as a forum for the different stakeholders, which are law enforcement, schools and faith-based organizations to work together to mitigate gang and gun crimes,” Blackstone said. “This will help everyone to come together to educate people and aim to prevent gang activity and other types of violent crime.”

The Helping Our Partners Excel project contains three strategies to prevent and reduce gun violence and other types of crime. The first will include training law enforcement to better investigate violent gun crimes. The second will include an early prevention component that will target fifth graders and help them make better decisions about gang violence and other crimes. The third will be a re-entry component that strives to reduce reoccurring crimes by those who have already been convicted.

“A successful fight against violent crime requires both punishment and prevention,” said Gov. Robert Bentley in a press release. “I commend those involved with this project for their efforts to prevent and reduce violence in Alabama.”

For more information, contact Tanja Blackstone with UNA Sponsored Programs at 256-765-4523 or e-mail tfblackstone@una.edu.