A group of business leaders spearheaded by Jim Bernhard that includes developer Mike Wampold, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has committed $540,000 to fund a group violence prevention program in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The program is intended to take the place of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination program or BRAVE, which ended last year after its grant funding ran out. The new program, however, will be more specifically be modeled after criminologist David Kennedy’s National Network for Safe Communities project.
The announcement was made at a private ceremony at the Water Campus late this afternoon.
The effort to raise the money came together in recent weeks, following Bernhard’s pledge to become more involved in tackling the city’s problems—specifically crime, traffic and the lack of funding for higher education.
“It’s clear that Baton Rouge has had solutions in the past that have helped reduce homicides in our community, and we’re at the point where we definitely need those solutions again,” Bernhard says. “If the issue is a lack of resources, our business community has to take a leadership position in committing resources that are necessary to reduce crime—plain and simple. It’s my hope that others follow our lead and do the same.”
Bernhard was the founder and CEO of the Shaw Group, which was acquired by CB&I in 2013. He has since gone on to found the successful private equity firm Bernhard Capital Partners.