(From left) Yves Trudel of the United Way; Harley Jones, a participant in the It Together program; and Alison Gutrath, In It Together coordinator, celebrate the announcement on Tuesday night of the United Way providing another $70,000 to the gang-prevention program. (Submitted photo)

United Way announces $70,000 for Abbotsford gang-prevention program

Federal funding for In It Together ran out last fall

United Way of the Lower Mainland is providing another $70,000 for Abbotsford’s In It Together gang-prevention program.

The funding was announced Tuesday night as part of the Fraser Valley Community Spirit Awards, which recognize United Way donors.

In It Together, which provides support for youth in gangs or at risk of joining gangs, announced last fall that its federal funding was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2018.

Although a new funding-approval round was in process, the money was uncertain and, if approved, wasn’t scheduled to start until this April.

In October, the United Way committed $100,000 to the program.

On April 23, the provincial government announced that $978,000 had been approved for the program over three years, far below the previous $1.26 million in annual federal funding.

RELATED: Funding is running out for Abbotsford gang-prevention program

RELATED: De-funded Abbotsford anti-gang program gains $100,000 commitment

Rod Santiago, executive director of Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), which operates In It Together, said the backing from the United Way is much appreciated.

“Without their earlier support, we would have had to literally close our doors last year and lost skilled staff members and our long-term relationships with youth,” he said.

“United Way helped us through the interim period without government funding and are continuing to recognize this critical need by contributing funds to increase the services we can provide to at-risk youth and their families.”

RELATED: Abbotsford youth gang prevention program gets provincial funding

Yves Trudel, Fraser Valley regional director for the United Way, said In It Together has garnered “incredible support” from local residents.

“When programs are paired with the passion and action of local citizens, we can create community-wide solutions to gang violence,” he said.

A press release from the United Way indicates that In It Together has supported 427 young people and more than 1,000 parents and caregivers over the last five years.

Also at the Community Spirit Awards night, the United Way presented ACS with the Fraser Valley Spirit of Community Award, recognizing the valuable impact to the agency’s services for local residents.

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