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Request for Committee Action

A briefing memo explaining the purpose, background, and impact of the requested action.
Contract amendment with Urban Ventures to provide sentencing alternatives for gross misdemeanor weapon offenses (RCA-2019-01383)

City Attorney
To Committee(s)
# Committee Name Meeting Date
1 Ways & Means Committee Dec 10, 2019
Lead Staff:
Erik Nilsson
Presented By:
Mary Ellen Heng
Action Item(s)
# File Type Subcategory Item Description
1 Action Contract/Agreement

Authorizing an increase to Contract No. C-42542 with Urban Ventures, in the amount of $310,000 for a total amount not to exceed $410,000, to provide sentencing alternatives for gross misdemeanor weapon offenses and a change in contract scope, increasing the number of days programming is offered.

Ward / Neighborhood / Address
# Ward Neighborhood Address
1. All Wards
Background Analysis

In 2016, the City Attorney’s Office (CAO) initiated a request for applications from qualified agencies to provide a more effective, community-based sentencing alternative for carrying a pistol without a permit cases.   Three different agencies provided proposals and Urban Ventures was selected to run this new program.  Since we began this program we have expanded beyond the initial offense of carrying a pistol without a permit to any gross misdemeanor weapon offense charged by the CAO.  Over the past three years Urban Ventures has provided an alternative to standard conviction and sentencing for gross misdemeanor weapons charges. Urban Ventures has partnered with Wellspring Second Chance to offer a two-phase program. Phase 1 consists of an intake, diagnostic and risk assessments and 67 hours of intensive programming and case management over a three-month period.  Phase 2 consists of 9-15 hours of programming and case management for a 3-6-month period.  Individuals who successfully complete the program will have the criminal charge dismissed with no conviction on their records.   If graduates qualify they may also be eligible to have their criminal case expunged from their record one year after being discharged from probation.

The program has barely been in place and operating.  Nevertheless, the results have been extremely positive.  Hennepin County and the courts are looking to Urban Ventures to provide similar programming for 16-17 year olds charged with weapons carrying offenses.  The University of Chicago Smart Decarceration Project has selected our program as one of three programs across the country they are evaluating as an effective violence prevention/diversion program.  The evaluation is being funded by the Joyce Foundation, and is already underway. 

Initially we were unsure of the number of participants, so we used our best estimates.  Similarly, the nonprofit was not sure how to best capture program costs without knowing if there would be a steady stream of participants.  We decided to have Urban Ventures charge on a per person basis. We began with estimating approximately $35,000 per year, (understanding the first year most likely wouldn’t get to that point) or approximately $100,000 over the course of three years. 

After the first year and a half we spent $30,000 and Urban Ventures requested a contract amendment to structure costs differently.  Instead of charging only on a per person basis, we divided the cost structure into two types of expenses 1) variable costs associated with intake and case management and 2) fixed costs for the subcontractors providing the specific classes regardless of the number of participants. 

Currently, we are estimating this year’s costs to be approximately $76,000. This is both due to the restructuring of the contract and the increase in participants.  Additionally, due to the program’s number of participants, Urban Ventures would like to expand to offer two days of programming versus the current one.  This would provide a second option for participants who have a difficult time making it to the programming during the week due to work.  This would also further increase costs to approximately $155,000 per year.  The contract is in place through January 31, 2022, however, we need additional funds to further assess and evaluate the program prior to scoping the project for another RFP process.

Enterprise Review
  • Meets the City’s Equity and Inclusion goals for contracts over $100,000. The AAP Request has been submitted to Civil Rights