State, City Leaders Announce Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Project in Wilmington

Social service agencies will partner with law enforcement to prevent gun violence

WILMINGTON, Del. – State of Delaware social service agencies will partner with law enforcement to prevent gun violence in the City of Wilmington under a Group Violence Intervention (GVI) project announced by state and city leaders on Tuesday.

Governor John Carney joined Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki, Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy, and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Kara Walker to announce their shared commitment to launching the evidence-based GVI strategy in Wilmington.   

Evidence shows that gun violence is concentrated among a small number of people at very high risk for both victimization and violent offending. The GVI strategy is intended to help these high-risk individuals avoid involvement in the criminal justice system, keep them safe, stabilize their lives, and create accountability for violence. DHSS, the Delaware Department of Correction, and the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families are among the agencies that will provide intervention services under the partnership.

“For any city to be successful, it needs to be safe,” said Governor John Carney. “Under the leadership of Mayor Purzycki and Chief Tracy, we’ve seen a significant reduction in gun violence in our city. But – as there are in all cities – there are still communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence in their neighborhoods. Those shootings traumatize children and families, and tear apart entire communities. We know that this gun violence is concentrated among a small group of people who are at very high risk for offending – but also at a very high risk for being victims of gun violence. We believe we can make a real difference if we are able to reach those at highest risk, and help them avoid involvement in the criminal justice system, keep them safe, and stabilize their lives. Thank you to Mayor Purzycki, Chief Tracy, Attorney General Jennings, Professor David Kennedy and many others for their partnership on this important work.”

“Wilmington is making significant gains regarding public safety,” said Wilmington Mayor Michael Purzycki. “We are a safer City today because we are policing the City differently, and that difference is largely because of the trust that has been built between the police department and our citizens. Chief Tracy has introduced new and effective layers to our policing methods in Wilmington and today we add another layer that can continue to improve lives and further reduce crime. My thanks to the Governor, to the Health and Social Services Secretary and to our criminal justice leaders for embracing this effort and to David Kennedy, Chief Tracy and former Chief Cummings who are deeply invested in making sure this initiative works for all of us.”

“This is a new day in Wilmington’s efforts to curtail violence in our neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Through this initiative, we are recognizing the social and economic dynamics that so often drive violent crime, and we are disrupting those dynamics at their source. This program has shown remarkable promise in sharply reducing group violence and I am committed to its missions: protecting public safety, addressing the causes of anger and hopelessness that exist in our most underserved communities, and providing meaningful alternatives to those who would build a better life for themselves.”

The intergovernmental initiative will bring together state-level social service agencies with the Wilmington Police Department, the Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and community leaders in an effort to further and more significantly reduce homicide and shooting incidents in Wilmington. Intervention will be based on frontline knowledge, and real-time data on violence and individuals who face the highest risk of violence.

The GVI work will be led by Bobby Cummings, the former Wilmington Police Chief who has been appointed Director of Group Violence at the Department of Health and Social Services. The National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College, led by Professor David Kennedy, will provide technical assistance.

“Over the past several years, the Wilmington Police Department has embraced a range of proven, evidence-based policing strategies, with focused deterrence being key,” said Wilmington Police Chief Robert J. Tracy. “Implementing Group Violence Intervention – the next phase of our layered, comprehensive approach – carries the promise of achieving continued reductions in violent crime, while simultaneously offering support and wraparound services to those who embrace an alternative to engaging in gun violence.”

“We’re extremely excited to be working with Delaware and Wilmington to prevent homicide and gun violence,” said David Kennedy, Director of the National Network for Safe Communities at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “We’ve known and worked with Chief Tracy for years, and the commitment of the Governor’s Office puts Delaware amongst a small but growing number of states making an executive commitment to evidence-based public safety approaches. This work saves lives, keeps people out of the justice system, and builds trust between police and communities. We’re honored to be part of it.”

“As leaders, we all have a responsibility to alter the cycle of poverty, trauma and violence in order to keep individuals and families safe and healthy,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. “The newly appointed Director of Group Violence Intervention in the Department of Health and Social Services will have the resources and the staffing support to meet the social services needs of the small number of people in Wilmington who are at a very high risk for both victimization and for violent offending.”


Governor Carney, Lt. Governor Hall-Long Announce $50,000 Grant from Highmark Delaware for Basic Needs Closets

Grant will support basic needs closets in 45 high-needs schools throughout Delaware

HARRINGTON, Del. — Governor John Carney on Wednesday, joined by Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, visited Lake Forest South Elementary School to announce a $50,000 grant from Highmark Delaware’s BluePrints for the Community fund to support basic needs closets in schools throughout Delaware.

The funds will help high-needs schools across the state restock their basic needs closets so students have access to clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and other essentials.

“Highmark’s generosity is a perfect example of how community support can make a big difference in the everyday lives of Delaware’s children,” said Governor John Carney. “By meeting students’ basic needs in a dignified way, we are able to ensure children can focus on their learning and be successful. We are grateful for Highmark’s support in this worthy endeavor.”

The grant comes in two installments. The first $25,000 recently was distributed to help school leaders restock the closets for the second half of the academic year. The second $25,000 will come in June so the schools can restock over the summer for the new school year.

“Highmark Delaware is proud to support the basic needs closet. We know our BluePrints for the Community grant will make a difference for children throughout Delaware. When a student’s basic needs are met they are healthier and better able to focus on the important task of learning,” said Tim Constantine, President of Highmark Delaware.

In August, Governor Carney launched the basic needs closets initiative in 45 high-need schools across the state. The stocked closets are a result of the coordinated efforts of Delaware educators, Delaware businesses, Delaware healthcare institutions, and a partnership with First Book.

The basic needs closets provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school’s basic needs closet is stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the wellbeing of their students. Students are able to discreetly access the closets throughout the school year. The initiative aims to meet students’ basic needs with dignity so they can be ready to learn in class.

“Every year, heroic educators spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to purchase supplies and basics for their students, because they see the needs in front of them every day,” said Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book. “We applaud the State of Delaware and Governor Carney for a sustained commitment to meet these essential needs, and Highmark for its generous donation to make this sustained commitment possible. This kind of leadership acknowledges that all kids deserve equal access to a quality education.”

Thanks to additional support from Operation Warm, students also were able to receive coats earlier this winter.

Lake Forest leaders said children and their families appreciate access to the needed supplies.

Superintendent Dr. Brenda G. Wynder said Lake Forest South Elementary is honored to receive this funding.

“As a district, we are committed to meeting the educational, emotional, and social needs of our students.  We recognize that supporting our students’ educational and basic needs increases the opportunity for them to be successful,” said Lake Forest Superintendent Dr. Brenda G. Wynder. “We thank Highmark for helping us by providing clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and other essentials to our closet.  We value all our community partnerships and the generosity that they provide the Lake Forest School District and families.”

Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long, who is overseeing the initiative for Governor Carney, said the state will continue to look for ways to coordinate needed supports for students.

“Our children and families have enough things to worry about. School supplies and clothing should never be one of them,” said Lieutenant Governor Hall-Long. “As a community, we have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable among us, which all too often are our children. This grant funding provided by Highmark will help ensure that Delaware students have basic supplies and necessities to be more prepared and more effective in school.”


Click here to view photos from the announcement.

Governor Carney Coordinates Support for Basic Needs Closets for Students in High-Needs Schools

Basic Needs Closet Logo #firstbookfirststate

Delaware partners with organizations, hospitals to stock closets in 45 Delaware schools

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday announced an initiative to stock basic needs closets in 45 high-needs Delaware schools. The closets will receive supplies in time for the start of the school year thanks to the coordinated efforts of Delaware educators, Delaware businesses, Delaware healthcare institutions, and a partnership with the nonprofit First Book.

Governor Carney showcased the closets at three schools – one in each county – to highlight the impact these free supplies will have on Delaware students and families. Educators at Highlands Elementary School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, Towne Point Elementary School in the Capital School District, and Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in the Woodbridge School District hosted Thursday’s events.

“Students face tremendous obstacles to doing their best in school when their basic needs are not met,” said Governor Carney. “By coordinating resources throughout the state, we are helping to make certain every Delaware student in high-needs schools has the basic resources many of us take for granted so they can focus on their education and thrive in the classroom. Thank you to all of our partners who helped make this a reality for Delaware students.”

Basic Needs Closet Graphic

Delaware’s basic needs closets will provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school’s basic needs closet will be stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the wellbeing of their students, including hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, and more. Students will be able to discreetly access the closets throughout the school year.

Delaware healthcare institutions and businesses statewide donated funding for the closets, including Christiana Care, Bayhealth, Nemours, Incyte, Nanticoke, and Beebe Health Systems, as well as Cover Rossiter, EDiS, and Drinker Biddle. Delaware partnered with the nonprofit First Book to purchase the basic needs products at a reduced rate, as a part of the First Book First State partnership.

Delawareans can visit to learn how to help.

Follow news about the Basic Needs Closets initiative on social media using the hashtag #firstbookfirststate.

“Since we know that disadvantaged students benefit academically when their basic needs are met, we are truly grateful to have more of these resources available for Delaware schools,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “Our goal is to assure that educators have needed supports so they can prepare all students for long-term success.”

The Governor’s focus on meeting students’ basic needs demonstrates the state’s commitment to supporting the needs of Delaware’s students to help them learn and thrive in school, which is part of the Governor’s broader education policy.

The Delaware Department of Education will be supporting the Basic Needs Closets initiative. Governor Carney in July announced the creation of the Innovation and Improvement office, which will support educators and students in high-needs schools, especially those in the City of Wilmington.

“Our primary goal is to determine school needs and then coordinate supports and resources for students and families so that all students can come to school ready to learn,” said the new Director of Innovation and Improvement Dorrell Green. “To make certain students and families in high-needs schools have what they need to be successful in the classroom, none of us can operate alone.”

Delaware districts and charter schools have also welcomed the basic needs closets as they look for new ways to meet the diverse needs of their students.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in education is children coming to school unprepared to succeed academically,” said Capital School District Superintendent Dan Shelton. “When we can address the immediate concerns first, we give students a greater opportunity to learn and, in turn, provide our teachers with better classroom environments that help every student.”


Reaction from Basic Needs partners to Thursday’s announcement:

“We are extremely grateful for the support from the Governor’s office and area partners for their support of students at Highlands Elementary School,” said Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Merv Daugherty. “The Basic Needs Closet will assist students with supplies to benefit their academic growth in the classroom.”

“We are excited to have been chosen as one of the schools that will receive a Basic Needs Closet,” said Heath Chasanov, Superintendent of Woodbridge School District and the 2017-18 President of the Chief School Officers Association. “At Woodbridge, we have always recognized that a student’s physical and emotional needs must be addressed if they are going to have success in the classroom.  This closet will help compliment a number of programs that we have already established that consider all of the needs of our students.”

“We’re very fortunate to have a basic needs closet here at Towne Point,” said Toriano Giddens, Principal of Towne Point Elementary. “Things like food, clothing, and toiletries that many people take for granted, are the same things that many of our students struggle to obtain. So it’s rewarding to be in a position to instantaneously provide some of those items to our students in need. More importantly, when a child’s basic needs are met, they can focus on learning. This is one of the ways we are meeting the needs of the whole child while fulfilling one of the intents of the Capital School District’s strategic plan.”

“Highlands is thrilled to be the recipient of a Basic Needs Closet for our students and their families,” said Highlands Elementary School Principal Barbara Land. “Our school mission is ‘Excellence for every child, every minute, every day, to accelerate achievement and prepare students for life…Together.’  The supplies provided by generous donors helps to ensure that our students are supported and ready to learn.  It really does take a village and we are so grateful for Governor Carney’s support.”

“Providing access for our students to basic needs – such as clothing, school supplies, and food – can make a real difference in their ability to learn at school,” said Principal of Phillis Wheatley Elementary School Principal Lynn Brown. “We tell our students that education is the key to their bright future, and that with hard work and dedication they can accomplish anything.  Not having clothing, food, or materials to work with can get in the way of their success, and we cannot thank you enough for your efforts to bridge the gaps and support us with your commitment to the children of Sussex County through donating these important items.”

“As a not-for-profit health system, Bayhealth is committed to fulfilling its mission ‘to strengthen the health of our community, one life at a time’,” explained Bayhealth Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Tretina.  “We honor our community by supporting the Basic Needs Closet in local schools where Bayhealth offers Wellness Centers.”

“When kids lack the most basic needs, including clothing and hygiene, their self-esteem and school attendance suffers,” said Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book. “Heroic teachers try to bridge the gap in resources — but the need is too great. We applaud the State of Delaware — led by Governor John Carney — for fulfilling these essential needs. This kind of leadership is a critical step in ensuring that all kids have the equal access to a quality education that they deserve.”

“Incyte is proud to partner with the State of Delaware on its Basic Needs Closets initiative,” said Paula Swain, Incyte’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Chair of the Incyte Charitable Giving Foundation. “Serving our community and creating positive change is an integral part of our culture. As a company rooted in science, we believe that by helping provide basic necessities to future innovators, they will be better able to focus on education and making a positive impact in our society.”

“Christiana Care is proud to support the Basic Needs Closets Initiative, and we appreciate this opportunity to partner with Governor Carney to support students and families at schools across our community,” said Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH, president and Chief Executive Officer of Christiana Care Health System. “Our commitment to serving our neighbors includes making sure students have what they need to succeed in school, so they can get a good education and lead healthy lives. This program is an innovative example of how we can combine Christiana Care’s commitment to serving our community with the support of other partners in a State-led initiative to address the pressing needs of those we serve – clothing, food and personal care items.”

“At Beebe Healthcare we know from our work in population health that social determinants, like the level of one’s education, can influence our overall health as much, if not more, than many medical interventions and treatments,” said Jeffrey M. Fried, FACHE, President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare. “We think the idea of a basic needs closet for students is a wonderful way to help ensure our students are able to thrive and succeed in a learning environment. We applaud Governor Carney and his administration for creating the Basic Needs Closet for Delaware’s students, and we are pleased to be a partner to help support this wonderful program.”

“Our community’s health is a priority for Nanticoke, as it is for all of Delaware’s hospitals.  The Basic Needs Closet is one more way for us to connect with and support our community,” said Thomas Brown, Senior Vice President of Nanticoke Health Services. “Before she died, my wife Pegeen taught in the Woodbridge School District.  Through her work I saw how much she and other teachers provided to young people out of their own pockets.   So, I know firsthand how important this project is and the daily impact it will make on the lives of these teachers and students.  They will absolutely benefit from the resources these closets will provide.  The Nanticoke family will be supporting this effort on multiple levels, through support from our employees, medical staff and community partners.  Additionally, the organization will support this project through its Pegeen and Samantha Brown Pediatric Fund, providing an additional resource to help ensure the closets in our community have what they need.  Pegeen would be thrilled that the fund in her and our daughter’s memory would help children in the school system that meant so much to her.  Nanticoke Health Services is thrilled as well.”

“Nemours is happy to support Governor John Carney and the Basic Needs Closet Initiative,” said Roy Proujansky, MD, Nemours Executive Vice-President, Chief Executive, Nemours Delaware Valley Operations. “Nemours Children’s Health System is focused on improving the health of children through clinical care as well as programs that ensure they have the tools necessary to live healthy, productive lives. This Initiative is a fundamental form of preventative care that will have a positive impact on children in the surrounding areas and we are excited to be a part of such a great effort.”


Multi-State Poker Play Begins

Delaware and Nevada take major step to follow through on agreement Governors Markell and Sandoval signed last year

Dover, DE – Governor Markell and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced today the start of the Multi-State Poker Network (MSPN), which allows poker players from both states to begin competing against one another at the same virtual tables.

Delaware and Nevada poker players can now share game tables and tournaments any time of day, increasing the number of available online competitors. This partnership enhances the range of poker games and tournaments that Delaware and Nevada can offer, and better positions both states in the iGaming market.

“Today is the start of an exciting time for iGaming and for Delaware,” said Governor Markell. “The MSPN is the first multi-jurisdiction poker network of its kind in the world. We now offer an online poker option that is more competitive and more enjoyable for its users, thanks to this collaborative effort. I applaud Governor Sandoval for his leadership and commitment to this effort and thank our Department of Finance for working with their counterparts in Nevada to implement this initiative.”

“The MSPN follows Nevada’s and then Delaware’s entry in 2013 as the first two states to launch internet gaming,” said Secretary of Finance Tom Cook. “Along with creating an enhanced player experience, the MSPN also brings added security to the system, including upgraded geo-location features.”

“Nevada and Delaware are at the vanguard of internet gaming, leading by example to provide a legal, tightly regulated online poker market that protects consumers in both our states.  The gaming industry is evolving, and Nevada is evolving with it,” said Governor Brian Sandoval.

Starting today, Delawareans will be able to play Nevadans at the same virtual table with all the consumer protections that come with a regulated market. Until today, consumers could only play across state lines in unregulated games operated by illegal, offshore sites that have no standards for protection of personal or financial information, nor recourse against bad actors.

The MSPN is the result of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement that Governors Markell and Sandoval signed in February 2014. To play, competitors must be 21 or over.  They must log on using a PC or Mac computer located in Delaware or Nevada.

In Delaware, players can access the MSPN by visiting the Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, or Delaware Park websites.

The effort to start MSPN has included steps to establish strong safeguards that ensure these games may only be accessed by persons 18 or older located in Delaware and Nevada.




Governor Announces China Study Abroad Program for DE High School Students

Partnership with leading Chinese company is part of expansion of world language education opportunities

Wilmington, DE – Having made it a priority to offer Delaware students the best opportunities to learn a second language, Governor Markell today announced a China summer abroad program for high school students studying Mandarin. The Governor signed an agreement with representatives of Wanxiang Group, China’s largest auto parts manufacturer, for students to study at the company’s facility in Hangzhou, China, where they will take daily language classes, visit local schools, participate in cultural activities, and tour sites of science and technology companies.

“To prepare students for good-paying jobs in our global economy, the value of learning a second language is clear,” said Governor Markell. “And there is no better way to become immersed in another language and culture than to live it.

“This partnership provides an amazing chance for our young people to not only dramatically improve their fluency in a second language, but also become more familiar with a different culture in the world’s second-largest economy. I strongly encourage students taking Chinese and their families to consider this opportunity.”

Joined by students and teachers from Mandarin Chinese classes at Conrad Schools of Science, Markell signed an agreement with Wanxiang Project Manager Daniel Li, who represented Executive Vice President of Wanxiang Group Pin Ni. The document provides a grant from Wanxiang for about $450,000 to fund study abroad sessions in 2015 and 2016, with up to 24 students and four teachers participating each year.

“Governor Markell’s vision to bring World Language Chinese to Delaware has not only given Conrad students a leg up in the international science industry going forward, but has afforded our students the opportunity to see and experience another culture from an increasingly interconnected world,” said Mark Pruitt, principal of Conrad Schools of Science.

In outlining the mission of the initiative, the Memorandum of Understanding states: “All programs created as a result of this agreement will help students see language proficiency as a workplace skill that will allow them to compete in the global marketplace of the 21st century. This partnership will also promote the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the field of environmental protection and clean energy solutions and provide opportunities for students to develop international leadership experience.”

Wanxiang, which has participated in President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative to send more American students to study in China, will fund all travel, living, and educational expenses. The partnership with Delaware, known as the Delaware Summer Chinese LInCS (Language Initiative for Communicating STEM) program, is geared toward students interested in real-world opportunities to apply their Chinese language proficiency and cultural knowledge in a STEM context.

“Delaware has made an impressive commitment to world language education and specifically to Chinese language opportunities for its students,” said Pin Ni. “We are proud to partner with Governor Markell and the Department of Education to make available more educational resources for the state as we continue to support President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative.”

Applications are due in March, and students will be chosen in April. Participants will depart in late June.

World Language Expansion in Delaware   Today’s signing ceremony builds on Governor Markell’s push to make Delaware the most bilingual state. At the event, he also announced growth of his World Language Expansion initiative, which gives students the chance to learn half of their subjects in either Spanish or Chinese from kindergarten through eighth grade. Participants aim to become proficient by fourth grade and pass the Advanced Placement language exam by ninth grade. Six new programs will open at schools next fall, bringing the statewide total to 17 programs with more than 2,300 students taking part in what will be the initiative’s fourth year. More details are available at