Most parts of Bloomington-Normal will be eligible for a new state grant program funded by cannabis sales revenue that’s aimed at those communities hardest hit by the war on drugs.
The state’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) grant program will get 25% of the tax revenue from cannabis sales. That could potentially be a lot of money: There were nearly 400,000 legal cannabis transactions totaling $19.7 million in the first 12 days of legalization, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported Monday.
Community organizations will be able to apply for R3 grants if they support economic development, provide violence prevention and re-entry services, or offer youth development and civil legal aid to individuals in eligible areas.
The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on Monday announced which areas will be eligible for R3 grants. The ICIJA identified those areas using census-level data on gun injury, child poverty, unemployment, and state prison commitments and returns.
Most of Bloomington-Normal will be eligible, covering 12 census tracts, according to ICIJA’s map. Excluded from eligibility will be the eastern half of the community, as well as northwest Normal. All of west and south Bloomington are eligible, as are many neighborhoods around ISU (but not ISU itself).
“The R3 program presents an opportunity to right wrongs caused by decades of poverty and the war on drugs,” Lt. Gov. and R3 board chair Juliana Stratton said in a statement. “The R3 board is committed to expanding opportunities for communities that have been left behind by economic disinvestment.”
A notice of funding opportunity for the grants will be released in the coming months.
“The war on drugs and gun violence had a devastating impact on these communities,” said David Olson, R3 Research Working Group member and Loyola University Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy & Practice co-director. “We look forward to serving these communities with funding for programs that will restore families, prevent violence, build protective factors, and end cycles of imprisonment.”
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