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Wambli Ska Okolakiciye Awarded First-Time $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Everytown Community Safety Fund to Sustain Critical Gun Violence Prevention Work in Rapid City


Everytown Will Also Provide Strategic Support Including Peer Convening, Capacity-Building Training, Data and Research Access and Support from Everytown’s Volunteer Networks

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Today, the Everytown Community Safety Fund (CSF), part of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, announced $50,000 in funding for Wambli Ska Okolakiciye in Rapid City, South Dakota to sustain their work and better position them to access federal funding. This grant is part of Everytown Community Safety Fund’s $2.35 million investment in funding to 335 community-based violence intervention organizations. The Everytown Community Safety Fund, a program of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, is the largest national initiative solely dedicated to fueling the life-saving work of community-based violence intervention organizations in cities nationwide.

Wambli Ska is a Native-led non-profit organization serving Lakota people in Rapid City. Wambli Ska has been successful in paving the way for a safer future with innovative programs in the community and securing important collaborations with community leaders, peer organizations, and social service partners. Through the work of its street outreach team, teen center, and culturally-informed restorative justice practices, Wambli Ska works on multiple levels through youth diversion and community initiatives to address the root causes of violence in a holistic way.

“We are honored to announce the Wambli Ska Okolakiciye as a 2023 Everytown Community Safety Fund Innovation grantee,” said Michael-Sean Spence, managing director of Community Safety Initiatives at Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and creator of the Everytown Community Safety Fund. “The Wambli Ska Society’s native-led initiatives have been vital to Rapid City’s Community Violence Intervention Collaborative since 2021. Through their street outreach team, teen center, and restorative justice practices, Wambli Ska has fostered positive change and safety within the Lakota community. With this grant, the Everytown Community Safety Fund will help Wambli Ska enhance their critical efforts to reduce gun violence on Native land and raise awareness about the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women.”

“This grant from the Everytown Community Safety Fund will be used to support the implementation of a comprehensive CVI program that aims to reduce and prevent violence within our community of Rapid City, South Dakota,” said Chris White Eagle, executive director of Wambli Ska Okolakiciye. “We strive to address drivers of violence and promote social change through the support of the Everytown Community Safety Fund Innovation Grant.”  

As gun violence continues to devastate communities following an exponential increase in recent years, community-based violence intervention (CVI) programs like Wambli Ska Society are working tirelessly to sustain their work, working with individuals at the highest risk of shooting or being shot and helping reduce violence through targeted interventions — including street outreach and hospital-based violence intervention — in the country’s most vulnerable communities. These programs are on the frontlines in the cities with the highest gun violence and communities experiencing the disproportionate impact of gun violence. While historic investments have been made at all levels of government, CVI organizations still struggle to access promised funding and when they do, funding is restricted to programmatic expenses, preventing them from increasing staff, building their capacity or scaling to more people and places in need. 

Since 2019, the Everytown Community Safety Fund (CSF) has granted $10.6 million in support of 117 community-based violence intervention organizations implementing promising strategies, like street outreach, hospital-based violence interventions and youth development and counseling, in more than 67 American cities. 

This grant is part of the first round of Innovations Grants awarded as part of the Community Safety Fund’s largest grant offering. Innovation Grants are awarded to violence intervention organizations with an innovative gun violence prevention, intervention or healing strategy, and address an emerging or underserved demographic, drivers of gun violence, or adopt an evidence-based strategy to a new setting for one year. CSF provides grant recipients $50,000, over one year, as well as access to CSF’s quarterly calls, peer convenings, capacity-building trainers, national conferences, as well as support from Everytown, and its grassroots networks Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, and national partners. 

Grantee selection follows a rigorous process administered by Everytown Community Safety Fund staff, as well as Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and an external review panel of experts from across the country, including the Everytown Community Safety Fund Advisory Board, made up of advocates, academics, survivors and city leaders from diverse backgrounds who recognize the critical role community-based violence intervention organizations serve as a component of a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence.

The full list of community-based violence intervention organizations currently supported by the Everytown Community Safety Fund and more information about the fund can be found here.