The funding landscape for mass violence prevention and response

Seeking funding opportunities to prevent and plan for mass shootings remains a top priority for public safety agencies

By PoliceGrantsHelp Team

While the ongoing public health crisis and police reform efforts are top-of-mind for local government officials, seeking funding opportunities to prevent and plan for mass shootings and other acts of mass violence remains a top priority for public safety agencies.

Fiscal Year 2020 grant awards for programs such as the COPS School Violence Prevention Program were recently announced. Questions come to mind like:

In this Oct. 1, 2017, file photo, police run toward the scene of a mass shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas.
In this Oct. 1, 2017, file photo, police run toward the scene of a mass shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
  • How will COVID-19 response and recovery efforts impact future funding opportunities?
  • Will the same programs re-open or will they remain closed as budget priorities shift?

Even with these unknowns, it is important to begin planning for funding now.

As we anticipate the Department of Justice’s FY21 program plan, which is essentially a list of the upcoming fiscal year’s grant cycles for every DOJ agency, the proposed federal funding landscape can be studied through proposed areas of investment. For instance, +$638.8 million to support state and local agencies has been proposed to respond to mass violence incidents and the prevention of violent crime. Additionally, +$4.3 billion is proposed for discretionary and mandatory funding for federal grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement to support victims of crime, and the safety of personnel and communities.

Below are federally funded programs to anticipate in FY21 that address preventing and preparing for mass shootings and violent crime.



The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office implemented the School Violence Prevention Program. This competitive award program provides “funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the grantees’ jurisdictions through evidence-based school safety programs.” Projects can include:

  • Coordination with local law enforcement;
  • Training for local law enforcement officers to prevent school violence against self and others;
  • Placement and use of metal detectors, locks, lighting and other deterrent measures;
  • Acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency;
  • Any other measure that, in the determination of the director of the COPS Office, may provide a significant improvement in security.

BJA STOP School Violence

The Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Program focuses on projects that:

  • Train school personnel and educate students on preventing student violence against others and themselves to include anti-bullying training;
  • Develop and implement threat assessment and/or intervention teams and/or operate technology solutions such as anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and websites.

OJJDP Comprehensive School-based Approach to Youth Violence and Victimization

Specifically targeting youth violence and victimization, this program supports these efforts through implementing prevention, intervention and accountability efforts in a school-based setting. Funded projects include addressing the full spectrum of violence on children, such as bullying, physical or sexual assault, family violence, gang activity and violence, and gun violence.


Additionally, states continue to release grant cycles, and more are anticipated this fall. Below are examples from states that have recently released open grant cycles:

Community Violence Prevention/Reduction Grant Program (Pennsylvania)

This grant program focuses on efforts that reduce or prevent violence throughout communities. The program can include:

  • Behavior health care that links the community with local trauma support;
  • Providing health services to the community;
  • Providing mentoring to children and their families;
  • Promoting communication between the school entity, community and law enforcement;
  • Any other model that is designed to reduce community violence.

Safe Schools Fund Grants Program (Maryland)

This competitive grant program directly focuses on school-safety related projects involving training, conducting school safety assessments, drafting emergency operations plans, establishing anonymous systems for reporting safety concerns, using technology and apps and other software to assist in outreach and other services, delivering behavioral health and wraparound services, and equipping schools with security cameras, emergency communication devices and other security equipment.


Even though the funding landscape could change in FY21, preparing for funding is the first step. Once a grant program is anticipated and selected, it is essential to consider the following action items to complete a successful grant application:

  • Search for your state’s violence prevention and response programs and become familiar with the state’s funding agencies and which agency will be responsible for administering the grant program. This could be through emergency management or criminal justice agencies.
  • For federally funded programs, look out for the DOJ’s Program Plan, which can be found here:
  • Address registration requirements. Many states require a registration along with their state registrations. For instance, Illinois requires GATA registration.
  • Begin collecting data now! Most grant applications require the applicant to present the need for their program in the narrative section. A need can be demonstrated with the use of local data, such as increasing crime rates.
  • Consider potential grant program deliverables. For instance, does a formal or informal risk assessment need to be completed of the school or surrounding communities?
  • Collaborate with local stakeholders and partners. Before applying, make note of any local organizations, agencies, or nonprofits that can assist with implementing the program and schedule time to discuss a plan for applying. For instance, are there any local nonprofits that have developed community relationships that can be utilized in preventing mass violence?

The team at PoliceGrantsHelp is always ready to help. Our grant assistance program includes a number of options including grant research, grant writing and grant application review. Best of luck!

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