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National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

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Group of teens Youth violence is a major public health issue for both individuals and communities. Each year, more than 4,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 die by homicide, making homicide the third leading cause of death for this age group. CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention funds several National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (formerly Academic Centers of Excellence):

John Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence

The Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence (JHCPYV) builds on its mission to prevent youth violence and promote positive youth development in Baltimore City. Utilizing a community-based participatory research approach, the Center creates academic-community collaborations that extended and improved their efforts to: 1) monitor and detect fatal and non-fatal youth violence; 2) conduct research aimed at identifying malleable factors related to youth violence and research on interventions that reduce youth violence and associated morbidity and mortality; and 3) create policies and practices that prevent youth violence.

JHCPYV collaborates with community organizations and residents in the Lower Park Heights community in Baltimore to employ a multi-sectoral, public health framework to understand and prevent youth violence. JHCPYC, with its partners, implement and evaluate several community and school-based prevention programs to prevent violence and bullying and to promote safe and supportive environments.

University of Chicago

Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention

  • PI: Dr. Deborah Gorman-Smith
  • Website

Researchers from the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention and a coalition of faith and community leaders will evaluate the process and impact of implementing Communities that Care (CTC) in Bronzeville, Illinois. CTC is a promising, community-level prevention system that provides a data-driven framework for community decision-making and implementation of evidence-based prevention programs that best address community needs, values, and resources. This study will evaluate CTC’s impact on youth violence and neighborhood social organization in an inner-city community. Additionally, current prevention strategies, such as Chicago’s Green Healthy Neighborhoods Large Lots Program and Safe Passage Program, will be evaluated for their impact on youth violence and results will inform future community and policy strategies.

University of Colorado

Denver National Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

An infrastructure to support coordinated, comprehensive youth violence prevention is critical but often lacking particularly in high-burden urban communities. The Denver Youth Violence Prevention Center will address this gap by collaborating with partners in two communities to implement Communities That Care (CTC). CTC is an evidence-based, community-level prevention system that uses data to help communities understand how to best prevent violence. The Center will evaluate the impact of its activities on the communities’ readiness and capacity to implement prevention activities and decreases in rates of youth violence. An implementation roadmap will be developed so that other communities can replicate and benefit from Denver’s successes.

University of Louisville

University of Louisville Youth Violence Prevention Center

Changing norms about the acceptability of violence as a way to resolve conflicts is a promising youth violence prevention strategy that requires additional study. Researchers at the University of Louisville and Vanderbilt University will partner to develop, implement, and evaluate a mass and social media campaign to change norms about violence and reduce violence among youth in West Louisville, Kentucky relative to youth in East Nashville, Tennessee. The development and implementation of the social norming campaign will be documented to inform replication and scalability in other communities.

University of Michigan

Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center

Improving and sustaining a safe physical environment in communities and creating spaces to strengthen social relationships is a promising youth violence prevention strategy. The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center will study the effects of improving vacant properties on violence, property crimes, and intentional injuries among youth in Flint, Michigan, Youngstown, Ohio and Camden, New Jersey. A community and youth-engaged approach to maintaining and improving environments will be compared to professional maintenance. Over 100 communities nationwide who have greening programs will be asked to share their experiences and lessons learned to inform an implementation guide.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development

  • PI: Drs. Saba Masho and Terri Sullivan
  • Website

Effective youth violence prevention programs are available but underutilized, and more needs to be learned about approaches that change community-level risks for violence. The Clark-Hill Institute will implement and evaluate Communities that Care (CTC) PLUS, an enhancement of CTC with Walker-Talker community outreach that strengthens awareness, capacity, and collaboration to use evidence-based strategies. CTC PLUS will be evaluated in three Richmond, Virginia neighborhoods for associated changes in rates of youth homicide and injury, neighborhood factors that affect the likelihood of violence, and community capacity to implement effective strategies.

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