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National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

Group of teensYouth 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):
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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 be the first evaluation of 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

National Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

The National Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention: Steps to Success (STS) is a collaborative between the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Colorado School of Medicine and numerous community organizations, including the Denver Public Schools and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The organization has five main goals: 1) reduce levels of youth violence among youth ages 10–24 in Montbello, CO compared to a comparison site; 2) implement and evaluate a multi-faceted, evidence-based primary prevention/intervention approach within the Montbello community; 3) provide training activities for junior youth violence prevention researchers in the fields of behavioral science, public health, and adolescent medicine; 4) provide training to medical practitioners enabling them to recognize and treat youth violence; and 5) embed coordinated activities into the existing community infrastructure of youth services to ensure sustainability.

The STS plans to implement the Communities That Care system in the Montbello community in Denver, Colorado. The Communities That Care system is a strategic planning mechanism that builds upon a concept of first identifying and then targeting risk factors for violence across multiple domains in a given community. The system is designed to guide the prevention efforts of a community through a five-stage process: 1) assessing readiness to undertake collaborative prevention efforts; 2) obtaining commitment to the process from community leaders and forming a prevention coalition; 3) using data to assess prevention needs; 4) choosing tested and effective prevention policies, practices, and programs; and 5) implementing and evaluating efforts.

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.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

North Carolina Rural Academic Center of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

Researchers are engaging in a planning process with community partners to identify the needs of the community by identifying risk factors that are unique to Robeson County's population and adopting evidence-based interventions that have proven to be effective in preventing youth violence. The Center's youth violence prevention initiative will address significant gaps in youth violence research in multi-cultural settings through the evaluation of NC-ACE's prevention interventions in Robeson County.

NC-ACE has a strong partnership with the Robeson County Health Department, the Center for Community Action, and the Public Schools of Robeson County. This partnership will enable them to implement and evaluate multiple programs in Robeson County and within the School System, the Justice System, and Family Services. The overall approach is to track community and school rates of violence (including school suspensions, juvenile arrests, delinquent acts, complaints against juveniles, and self-reported violent behaviors) within Robeson County and the other 99 counties in North Carolina using both propensity score matching and regression point displacement design.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development

Identifying factors that place youth at risk and the creation of programs that will promote positive development among the youth in Richmond is the focus of this action plan, which will empower youth, schools, families, and other stakeholders to promote healthy, safe, and positive development.
Notable socio-economic and racial disparities have had a negative impact on youth development and violence prevention efforts. Although the youth violence of Richmond has had a negative impact on the community, community members are working to develop a comprehensive, multifaceted prevention program to reduce rates of violence among the youth. This will provide youth with programs that will integrate and reinforce positive developmental change in all aspects of their lives.

Clark-Hill is working with community partners and city agencies to coordinate and implement a set of school-based, family-focused, and community-based programs. Clark-Hill is utilizing an innovative quasi-experimental approach, the multiple baseline design, which will assist them in evaluating community-level changes. Clark-Hill researchers will use several administration data sources and survey measures to assess changes among the three communities chosen.

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