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Grant awarded to combat sexual violence

A tri-county effort to combat sexual violence in Erie, Monroe and Niagara counties is getting underway, with local colleges and universities being the initial focus of the program’s work.

The project was announced Monday at a press conference on the steps of Buffalo City Hall.

The Central and Western New York-based group was awarded a five-year grant totalling $975,000 by the state Health Department. Organizations involved in the grant are Crisis Services, YWCA of Central and Western New York, and RESTORE Sexual Assault Services, a program of Planned Parenthood. Their’s is one of six such regional programs being set up to address sexual violence in New York.

Caitlin Powalski, regional coordinator for the Erie-Monroe-Niagara counties program, said Monday that the first year of the project will involve working with local colleges and universities. The focus will be on preventing sexual violence, but also improving the response a victim receives if an attack occurs, she said.