Calling all crime fighters: Plenty of money to offer, no one to take it

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A community group created to fight and deter crime is facing a strange dilemma.

The Brown County Crime Prevention Foundation has thousands of dollars to award in grants, but not enough people are asking for that money.

In fact, the foundation had to fight just to give away nearly $5,000 last year.

It's urging community groups to apply and do it fast.

From the Goods for Guns Program to take unwanted guns off the street, to anti-bullying and tutoring programs in schools, to citizens academies and initiatives encouraging positive police and youth interaction, the impact of the Brown County Crime Prevention Foundation is far-reaching.

"I spent 30-some years in law enforcement and you think you've seen it all, and then somebody says maybe we can do this," says Tom Hinz, former sheriff and co-founder of the Brown County Crime Prevention Foundation. "It's going to help."

And that's been the goal since Hinz and Pat Murphy first brainstormed the idea for the foundation back in 2001. It began awarding grants less than two years later.

Now in its 15th year awarding that money, the foundation is set to surpass the $200,000 mark, but only if community groups apply for the grants.

"We encourage all the neighborhood associations, who operate on a shoestring budget, to go online and apply for these grants," says foundation board member and Green Bay Police Captain Kevin Warych. "But in years past, sadly, we've not given out all the money that we had earmarked for these grants."

Money is continually collected through various community drives and donations and put into the foundation to grow, but in the last few years, the foundation has had thousands of dollars to give and no one to take it.

There could be lots of reasons, from just not knowing it's available to thinking it's too hard to receive, but Hinz says it's just the opposite.

"It's very simple. We tried to streamline the process so it's easier to apply for a grant, so we're urging people to put their hand out there," says Hinz.

The foundation hopes this won't discourage donations.

At the same time, it won't just give the money away.

It carefully screens each application to make sure the idea will somehow attack the desire, ability or opportunity to commit a crime.

They all know the success benefits the entire community.

"The whole theory is a dollar donated will be 10 dollars saved in incarceration," says Warych.

Applicants must meet specific requirements, but the foundation urges community groups, especially those on tight budgets, to try for a grant.

Applications are due June 30th.

To find out more about the process or to apply, click on the link to the right or below.