On March 26, 2024 Mt. Airy CDC joined partners State Senator Art Haywood and the social enterprise street-cleaning business Glitter to launch the Safe Steps Northwest initiative. This groundbreaking project is committed to creating cleaner, safer, and stronger neighborhoods in Northwest Philadelphia by bringing weekly cleaning to 300+ blocks that score highest for violent crime in Germantown and Mt. Airy, with the aim of reducing gun violence and fostering stronger community bonds.

State Senator Art Haywood spoke at the project’s launch at Waterview Recreation Center along with Mt. Airy CDC Executive Director Philip Dawson, Germantown United CDC Executive Director Emaleigh Doley, an officer of the 14th District, a Germantown resident, and representatives from Glitter including Program Manager Douglas Banks.

This work is funded by an $818,000 grant from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Violence Intervention & Prevention program (PCCD-VIP). The project tackles the interconnected challenges of litter and violent crime through meaningful engagement with neighbors, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Rooted in evidence-based research that cleaner blocks are safer blocks, this initiative offers a creative solution to gun violence through a holistic approach of effective and accountable litter cleaning, proactive community engagement, and living wage job creation, prioritizing hiring returning citizens and those impacted by the justice system.

After a successful summer 2022 block cleaning pilot project in the same neighborhoods, we applied for and were awarded the competitive grant from the PCCD-VIP program. We selected Glitter to carry out the scope of work due to its successful track record of transforming neighborhoods via its unique model of engagement and service delivery.  

Following the project launch, partners in the initiative took part in a block cleaning, including Sen. Art Haywood at left and Mt. Airy CDC’s Executive Director Phil Dawson at right.

Five months of weekly cleaning will begin in June 2024 across 335 identified blocks that have experienced recent gun violence. Additional funding supports neighbor outreach, community partnerships, impact evaluation, and 5 months of subsidies to make ongoing cleaning services affordable for every block beyond the grant period.

State Senator Art Haywood, a longtime leader in gun violence reduction efforts, has been a strong supporter of using block cleaning and community engagement to promote neighborhood safety. This project builds upon existing efforts coordinated with Sen. Haywood’s office that bring needed resources and positive opportunities to areas where violent crimes have occurred.  

Project partners from Glitter, Mt. Airy CDC, and Senator Haywood’s office took part in a block-cleaning effort to kick off the Safe Steps Northwest initiative.

Safe Steps Northwest is an innovative, data-driven approach to public-private partnerships and community based solution-building. The initiative sets a new standard for how communities can come together to solve persistent quality-of-life challenges. Building on Glitter’s model, which emphasizes effectiveness, accountability, and neighbor participation—residents and businesses are invited to come together to sustain the impact beyond the grant, ensuring long-term impact and community ownership.

Visit the project website at www.shareglitter.com/safesteps to learn more.

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