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ACE Center Descriptions: University of Chicago

University of Chicago
PI: Deborah Gorman-Smith, Ph.D.


The Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) has been established since 2005. With five years of renewed funding, the center builds on its prevention efforts by bringing together three teams of violence prevention researchers and their respective colleagues and community partners: the Families and Communities Research Group, the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention and the University of Chicago Crime Lab. By joining forces, they create a versatile group with a strong record for prevention research. The Center approaches the multifaceted problem of youth violence by providing programs targeted at children and families at different developmental ages and with youth at varying levels of associated risk and involvement. The Center efforts are coordinated with the social systems that have the most direct influence on youth throughout development – families, schools, community agencies, and justice.

CCYVP plans to implement a coordinated system of evidence-based violence prevention interventions within a single defined community within Chicago, the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The community is located in the west side of Chicago. According to the 2000 census, there were 37,027 people living in Humboldt Park, of which 69.9% were African American and 27.5% were Latino. This community has a high unemployment rate of 11.5% compared to the 6.2% that Chicago City has reported. Over one-third of residents live in poverty. The community is characterized by high rates of crime compared to other communities in Chicago. In 2009, the per capita rate for homicide was 45.1 per 100,000 residents compared to 15.8 per 100,000 for the City of Chicago. Youth violence in particular has had a profound effect on this community. The 2008 arrest data shows that youth (younger than 24 years) account for 57% of the arrests for murder, 57% of arrests for aggravated assault, and 75%of arrests for aggravated battery. The Humboldt Park neighborhood was chosen in hopes that the community will benefit from CCYVP’s approach to youth violence prevention.

CCYVP is implementing a range of programs in Humboldt Park, including CeaseFire and a school-based version of CeaseFire, a universal normative feedback intervention delivered within classrooms in each school, and the SAFE Children program. CCYVP is also working with community partners and city agencies to assess community need, identify relevant evidence-based interventions, and pilot promising interventions or policies to prevent youth violence. Their evaluation approach consists of comparing Humboldt Park to the comparison community, Lawndale, on several indicators such as violent crime data, school disciplinary referrals, and school climate by employing a regression point displacement design.

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