Weed and Seed is a community-based strategy sponsored by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and overseen by the Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) through a competitive federal grant solicitation. Those communities selected as Weed and Seed sites were eligible to receive up to one million dollars over the course of five year eligibility period.
Weed and Seed has been implemented in numerous communities nationwide. It is foremost a strategy that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in targeted high-crime neighborhoods across the country. The strategy involves a two-pronged approach. First, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors cooperate in "weeding out" criminals who participate in violent crime and drug abuse, attempting to prevent their return to the targeted area as part of the program. Second, "seeding" brings a variety of human services to the area encompassing crime prevention, intervention, treatment, and neighborhood revitalization. A community-oriented policing component bridges the weeding and seeding aspects of the program. Officers and prosecutors obtain helpful information from area residents for weeding efforts while they aid residents in obtaining information about community revitalization and seeding resources.
The Role of the United States Attorney
The United States Attorney's Office (USAO) has played a central role in organizing the site’s Steering Committee and bringing together the communities with the other Weed and Seed participants. Historically, the USAO had been consulted as soon as the applicant developed an interest in becoming a Weed and Seed site. A representative from the USAO would meet with the organization/agency, and provide critical guidance on how to become a successful Weed and Seed site. The USAO would assist the site in coordinating efforts with other federal agencies in order to effectively use federal law in weeding strategies and mobilize resources for seeding programs from a variety of federal agencies.
During Weed and Seed’s existence, the USAO had the following additional roles and responsibilities:
- Mandatory voting member of the Steering Committee;
- Assisted with the development of the law enforcement strategy;
- Provided technical guidance to the sites;
- Approved a Site Coordinator/Director candidate before he/she was hired;
- Reviewed draft grant applications for basic eligibility requirements prior to submission to DOJ/CCDO; and
- Provided the site with a Certification letter prior to application submission.
- Additionally, grant applicants were required to have met the following basic requirements:
- a persistent high level of violent crime;
- a site population between 7,500 and 50,000 residents;
- a functioning Steering Committee which had accomplished a number of “pre-award” developmental steps prior to application submission. (Establishing a committee and holding discussions about goals was not considered a pre-award development step. The committee had to demonstrate actual progress toward meeting its goals in order to be competitive.);
- USAO and DEA involvement and representation on the Steering Committee;
- one Site Director (aka Site Coordinator) who had completed a background check;
- at least 50%, but not more than 60% of grant funding applied toward “weed” efforts;
- no more than 50% of “weed” funds for overtime to law enforcement;
- at least one Safe Haven;
- written protocols for Safe Havens and other funded youth centers to screen all staff that work with children, including the site coordinator/director;
- a 25% match (“in-kind” was an acceptable match);
- an evaluation component to the application;
- a minimum of two priority problems included in the grant strategy;
- 25% pure grassroots residents on the Steering Committee;
- a federally negotiated indirect cost rate agreement; and
- a strategy developed by the Steering Committee as opposed to being solely written by a grant writer.
Historical Weed and Seed Steering Committees in Massachusetts
- Mason Square in Springfield
- Campello in Brockton
- Maple Gardens in Fall River
- South Central/Cove Street Neighborhood in New Bedford
- East Beach Street in Holyoke
- Piedmont, Pleasant, Chandler, Newbury in Worcester
- Lawrence District C in Lawrence
- Downtown/Highlands Revitalization Project in Lynn
- Metheun Weed and Seed
- Brockton Weed and Seed
- Lowell Weed and Seed
- Boston Weed and Seed Project
- Chelsea Weed and Seed
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