Safer Tomorrows is one of four projects in the nation to be awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Defending Childhood Initiative to address child exposure to all forms of violence in Grand Forks County.

More than 40 organizations, public and private, urban and rural, secular and faith based, are collaborating to make children’s lives safer.

The lead partners of Safer Tomorrows are the City of Grand Forks, the Community Violence Intervention Center, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota and the Grand Forks Public School System.

It is the incredible collaboration of these partners that is the strength of Safer Tomorrows.

Safer Tomorrows focuses on three key areas: PREVENTION, INTERVENTION AND DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW.

Raise awareness among all citizens

of violence, develop social norms promoting healthy relationships, and offer services that encourage healing

Educate every child in K-12 schools in county

and children ages 3-5 in Head Start and childcare programs about how to prevent violence and engage in positive and healthy relationships

Coach boys into men

by teaching boys in sports programs that violence never equals strength

Expand home visiting

that prevents child maltreatment to rural and other areas

Enhance specialized therapy for children

impacted by sexual assault, dating violence, bullying, violence at home, and other abuse to help them overcome the trauma

Expand restorative justice at schools

to reduce bullying and repair the harm caused by hurtful behavior

Improve responses

of professionals by initiating cross-agency screening and referrals, interdisciplinary and rural coalitions to coordinate services, training on best practices, an interpreter resource list and other efforts

Increase our understanding

of the ways local children are impacted by exposure to violence by establishing a system to collect and analyze data on all forms of childhood exposure to violence

Enhance and evaluate our response

by using data to inform our efforts, to improve our systemic response to child victims, and to increase awareness of local violence


Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010, to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The Attorney General has been personally and professionally committed to this issue for many years, dating back to early in his career when he served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and through his tenure as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.

Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

This problem affects each one of us. Effectively addressing it must become our shared concern and our shared cause. Building on lessons learned from previously funded research and programs such as Safe Start, the Child Development-Community Policing Program, and the Greenbook Initiative, Defending Childhood leverages existing resources across the Department of Justice to focus on preventing, addressing, reducing, and more fully understanding childhood exposure to violence.

In 2010, Department of Justice awarded grants to eight sites in cities and tribal communities around the country to develop strategic plans for comprehensive community-based efforts that would further demonstrate the goals of this initiative. Each of these sites received additional support in 2011 to help launch, sustain, and expand programs and organizations focused on the development of community-based solutions to address the problem. Four sites were then supported in developing comprehensive demonstration projects.

In addition to the demonstration program grants, the Department of Justice is committing additional funding for research, evaluation, public awareness and training for professional members and affiliates of national organizations through the initiative.

Read about the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence recommendations to see the strong federal commitment to helping our children and communities. (Find the full report here.)

Our Federal partners include: the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office on Violence Against Women, and the Office of Justice Programs.