As part of our growing work to bring racial equity to victims’ services, EJUSA published a comprehensive toolkit to help groups apply for Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding. The toolkit is geared towards organizations serving crime survivors – particularly in communities of color – that have not had access to federal funding in the past.
EJUSA Grassroots Capacity Building Specialist Latrina Kelly-James led a webinar to introduce the toolkit and help organizations understand the funding that is available. Over 45 organizational leaders participated, and many more have downloaded the toolkit or reached out for support in applying for funds.
Latrina will work with organizations in the coming months to help them improve infrastructure and generally “get their ducks in a row” in preparation for the application process. We will also have a grantwriter on hand to help selected groups with their applications.
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was signed into law in 1984, establishing the Crime Victims Fund. Crime Victims Fund dollars don’t come from taxpayers. Millions of dollars are deposited annually into the Fund from criminal fines, penalties, forfeited bail bonds, and special assessments collected in federal cases. Since the start of the Fund, more than 60% of the funds have come from corporate cases with fines of $100 million or more.
VOCA funds have been vital in support of traditional victim service providers, particularly within domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse cases, and in justice system-based Victim/Witness Assistance Programs. However many people who have been victimized do not access services through these traditional victim service providers. This is especially true in communities of color, where people are at greater risk of victimization but may be less likely to have access to victim services or to identify themselves as crime victims.
The Crime Victims Fund releases a set amount each year based on a cap set by Congress in the federal appropriations bill. (This is called the “VOCA cap.”) Funds are allocated to states each year. States then grant the funds to eligible public and nonprofit organizations and service providers through a grants process specific to their state.
In December 2014, the federal government increased the VOCA cap to the tune of an additional $1.6 billion. This creates an unprecedented opportunity to reach the full range of crime survivors – including those who have been underserved. EJUSA is part of a team of organizations working to ensure that increases in VOCA funding make their way to those communities, so the groups most impacted by crime and violence can reach more people and save more lives.