Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Tuesday that Sacramento was awarded the CalGRIP (California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention) grant of $250,000 from the state, which will help fund several programs for gang prevention.

With more than 50 gangs in Sacramento and 5,000 kids involved in gangs, public safety continues to remain a top priority with a comprehensive gang initiative, Johnson said during his weekly press conference.

"It’s a paradigm shift from enforcement and reentry to prevention. We want to shift to the intervention side of the equation. We’ll be able to focus on literacy, job skills, and thirdly more mentoring opportunities," Johnson said.

Project Learn of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento, along with Sacramento Reads, will continue to collaborate on a reading intervention program that makes sure all first through third graders can read at grade level before leaving third-grade.

Project Learn is a program that provides fun and academically beneficial activities such as leisure writing, learning activities and discussions with knowledgeable adults. For more information on Project Learn click here.

Created in 2011, Sacramento Reads is a third-grade literacy campaign focused on the literacy crisis. According to Sacramento Reads website, only 37 percent of third-graders will be able to read at grade level by the end of third grade. To close this gap, the campaign will focus on making sure children are ready for school and raising school attendance in 14 schools throughout the city’s five districts. For more information on Sacramento Reads click here.

According to Sacramento Reads Director Nikolas Howard, there is a distinct correlation between third-grade reading abilities, high school dropouts, and gang activity.

Not a lot of studies show that illiteracy by third grade has the outcome of gang activity, but in an attempt to understand the link between illiteracy and gangs, studies from Folsom Prison indicate that over 70 percent of inmates are functionally illiterate, Howard said.

"We can’t arrest our way out of situations with young people. We can’t allow them to get in the back of police cars. We need to get to them much, much sooner than that," City Councilman Jay Schenirer said.

According Schenirer, the money from the grant will go into prevention activities, such as funding Project Learn at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento.

Over 500 children in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento will benefit from the CalGRIP grant by its ability to continue funding current gang prevention programs.

"The wonderful thing about this (CalGRIP) grant is that you get a twofer: We had a very successful gang prevention grant that we had been rolling out with fourth through sixth grades in partnership with Sacramento City Unified School District, and this CalGRIP grant overlays our program, which is an evidence-based program. It will services over 500 kids. One hundred first through third graders will be targeted to make sure they know how to read," CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento Maureen Price said.

The WayUp initiative by Schenirer helps students attain job skills with Summer at City Hall internships. In partnerships with Sacramento City Unified School District, which is providing two unnamed teachers for the program, selected high school students will take civics and government classes in the morning at City Hall for school credit, and work as interns in the afternoon.

The money from the grant will be distributed in pieces. The Boys & Girls Clubs, WayUp, and Sacramento Reads and direct programming will get an undisclosed amount each. Down the line, a division or department within the Parks and Recreation department that is solely concerned with young people will be created, Schenirer said.

"We wrote the grant very specifically so that we could provide dollars to programs that we can track and we will see results and we will come back and report to this community about how we are doing," Schenirer said.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento click here. For more information on the WayUp program, click here, and to learn more about the Sacramento Reads campaign, click here.