GR considers another pitch night for violence reduction ideas

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While a lot of people think they have solutions to everyday problems, not everyone knows how to get those solutions to the right people. So the pitch night, where entrepreneurs can pitch their idea to investors, has become popular.

But can a pitch night provide solutions to more serious social problems?

Some at Grand Rapids City Hall think a pitch night may lead to some solutions after a record-setting year of violence in 2020. Commissioners on the finance committee will vote Tuesday on setting aside $52,000 in awards for a pitch night.

It won’t be the first time the city has tried the concept. In 2019, Urban Family Ministries’ Mother on a Mission program was awarded $2,500 for its efforts, which involve the mothers of murder victims sharing their pain with others.

“I hear a lot of people say, ‘Hey, you changed my life. Moms on a Mission changed my life.’ The things you all do, it’s real,” Elijah Libbett with Urban Family Ministries said.

The Grand Rapids-based program recently expanded to Muskegon.

“We get the pictures out, we get the mothers out, we get coffins out and we put a mirror in the coffin and when you look in there, that’s what your mother’s going to see if you don’t stop the violence,” Libbett said.

Pitch night is an idea taken from the pages of groups promoting entrepreneurs, like Start Garden: bring your idea to a panel of people who can make it happen and sell it.

If commissioners approved the funding, the city’s Safe Alliances for Everyone Task for would decide on who would split the money. Up to five 501(c)(3) organizations would be awarded $10,000 each for their ideas. Up to two individuals who can sell their idea for curbing violence would each be awarded $1,000.

Each pitch has to show how the idea benefits the community.

But it’s something can’t always be measured by the numbers, especially when it comes to stopping a crime that may have happened.

“We’re proactive, not reactive,” Libbett said. “If we can get out here and set the pictures up, have the mother sit down next to the pictures, our mission is if you don’t want your mother sitting there, then stop the violence. “

Urban Family Ministries is planning an anti-violence rally outside of its Eastern Avenue headquarters on Saturday, Aug. 21 from 2 p.m. to 8 pm.

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