GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The decision to sign the Safer Communities Act was a move that was more than a year in the making for President Joe Biden but started with a conversation with more than 20 Community Violence Interrupter groups across the country, including Gate City Coalition leader Ingram Bell.

Bell told FOX8 that she was invited in 2021 to speak with individuals with the president’s transition team regarding the “boots on the ground” mission within the communities along with the struggles they faced to get funding to do the work they wanted to do.  

“There were about 20 of us on that board with the communities’ act, and doing community projects such as Cure Violence…We got to meet with his transition and talk about what it’s like on the ground for CVI programs,” Bell said.  

These groups rely on donations and funding from city and county governments.  

Those conversations also included ways to train and expand the conversation on mental health within Black and brown communities.  

In June, President Biden signed the act, which included $250 million of federal funding for organizations like Bell’s.

In July, Bell was invited to a celebration at the White House where the president and hundreds of visitors celebrated the signing of the act.  

Bell explained that this will give violence interrupter groups a chance to seek additional funding and expand their ability to speak with federal government leaders and groups.  

Bell hopes that this will increase the support Gate City Coalition receives locally.

“Hopefully, with the president recognizing us for the work that we do…the city and the county buys in and gives us a little more funding and helps us expand because we want the violence to decrease,” she said.  

Gate City Coalition has received $750,000 in funding from the city of Greensboro for the upcoming fiscal year.  

This will go toward training, salaries and other expenses for the team of seven who operate across the city.  

The group is looking for additional funding from Guilford County, which will allow the addition of three violence interrupters.  

“We want the violence to decrease. And if we can hire someone from each community, the northside, the eastside, and the westside, and if we hire people from those neighborhoods who can go out and stop crime, that would be amazing,” Bell said.

Currently, Gate City Coalition/Cure Violence operates within the Smith Homes area and along the MLK Corridor.

However, by the start of the new year, Bell would like to expand operations to Merritt Drive and Overland Heights: locations where her violence interrupters have previously been called to address violent acts.  

She and her team will meet with county leaders later next week.