YWCA Kalamazoo is launching a new initiative that's designed to fight what they say is a sharp increase in hate crimes.

In a release, the YWCA announced Project Speak Up on Wednesday. Project Speak Up is designed to serve "victims and survivors who have been impacted by hate crimes here in Southwest Michigan." The project is aiming at community education, along with legal clinics and therapeutic support groups.

Citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, the YWCA Kalamazoo says says that hate crimes have risen sharply recently, with Michigan seeing the highest increase in the Midwest.

Grace Lubwama, CEO of YWCA Kalamazoo, says,

“YWCA Kalamazoo is grateful to Open Society Foundation for providing the funding to empower our community in efforts to support those affected by hate crimes.

The YWCA has a hotline if you or someone you know has experienced a hate crime, at 269-743-9463.

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