Iron Range victim advocacy group faces layoffsLayoffs are pending at an Iron Range nonprofit that helps battered individuals and their children.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Layoffs are pending at an Iron Range nonprofit that helps battered individuals and their children.
Virginia-based Range Women’s Advocates has to lay off four of its eight workers after it failed to win a five-year, $500,000 state grant.
In addition, one employee is retiring, meaning the group will have three paid workers.
“We were notified (by the Office of Justice Programs) in August that our grant application … was not accepted,” acting Executive Director Cathy Burt said.
The money would have paid general operating expenses.
“The three workers who are remaining; their work is being funded by specific grants,” she said.
The nonprofit advocacy organization works to meet the needs of battered individuals and their children through advocacy, prevention and education. It serves northern St. Louis County. The group provided 1,497 services to 753 people from Jan. 1 through July 31, board chairman Robin Raplinger said. The organization is working to limit the layoffs’ impact on clients.
“We’re working with other community groups right now, trying to set up services in an interim sort of way,” Raplinger said. “We are doing our best, working towards maintaining as much service to these victims as humanly possible. We are seeking other grants.”
This is the first time the state made the grant application process competitive, and the first time the grants were for five years, Raplinger said. And Range Women’s Advocates is not the only organization not receiving a grant, he said.
In 2011, Gov. Dayton and the Legislature hammered out a budget that reduced funding for Office of Justice Programs by $3 million in fiscal years 2012-13, reducing money for battered women programs, crime prevention services and for helping victims of crimes.
Range Women’s Advocates originated as a grassroots organization in 1978. It secured its first grant the next year.
In addition to helping victims directly, RWA also educates people about domestic violence in an effort to change attitudes, monitors the criminal justice system in an effort to ensure rulings and sentences are just and fair and gives presentations to students in an effort to prevent them from entering abusive relationships.