ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Community Relations Committee members heard from Regrow grant recipients about the success of their projects over the past year with the financial aid.
Since recreational marijuana was legalized for adult use in 2019, communities across Illinois have seen benefits. That includes the Forest City and Rockford’s Regrow grants.
“It helps so many organizations. It helped, most importantly, youth. It ranges from our youth all the way up to our seniors, so it was an amazing amazing thing,” said William Martin, a commissioner for the City of Rockford’s Community Relations Committee.
These grants were handed out in 2021 and totaled $360,000 across six organizations. 815 Alive, The YMCA, Comprehensive Community Solutions, and Discovery Museum were four of the recipients
“Money has gone to helmets, equipment, jerseys, things of that nature. Insurance, just to make sure we are able to provide the best experience for our children,” said Brandon Gordon the CEO of 815 Alive.
“They take trips around the community to learn about Rockford because we feel strongly that it is important for us to teach our young people the importance of loving their community, so they can grow up with that love and be assets to the community,” said William Chatman, Executive Director for Comprehensive Community Solutions.
Rockford’s Regrow Grants are completely funded by the local cannabis tax fund. The program is funded by the City of Rockford’s 3% local tax on adult-use cannabis sales. It was created as a way to reinvest in communities that were “disproportionality impacted by the war on drugs.”
“We want to build skills, but it is more the attitude at that age than the aptitude,” said Lana Paris, the Director of Development at Discovery Museum.
“We do have children of all backgrounds for sure, but I would say, at least, probably 75 percent are definitely Black and Brown youth,” said Kamrin Muhammad, the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness at the YMCA.
The money has been used in a variety of ways. Ranging from building renovations, recreational equipment, learning resources, and more. The common goal is helping those in Rockford.
“From the YMCA to Discovery zone to 815 Alive that’s doing that football it’s just amazing. Particularly at a time when there is so much violence and so much thing that are going on to have organizations still investing in our youth is amazing,” Martin said.