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ACE Center Descriptions: University of Michigan

University of Michigan
PI: Marc Zimmerman, Ph.D.


The University of Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) is collaborating with the University of Michigan School Of Public Health and Medical School, Michigan State University, the Genesee County Health Department, Flint Police Department and other local organizations. The goal of the MI-YVPC is to create and evaluate a multi-level youth violence prevention strategy that will be sustainable and effective within the Flint community. Researchers have combined efforts with local community partners to focus on promoting positive youth development through programs that improve community infrastructure and intergenerational interactions. In addition, MI-YVPC is integrating and improving local prevention programs within their prevention strategy to ensure sustainability by increasing community capacity.

The target community that MI-YVPC has chosen to implement its youth violence prevention strategy is in the Durant-Tuuri-Mott neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. Flint, Michigan is a unique and historic city that has seen much economic prosperity and misfortune throughout the years. During the 1960’s, the City of Flint was one of the most prosperous metropolitan areas in the US due to the high paying manufacturing jobs at several General Motors factories located in Flint. However, since the 1970’s Flint has lost over 70,000 auto industry jobs due to the departure of many of the GM factories. Based on socio-economic indicators, Flint is now one of the lowest ranked cities in Michigan. The unemployment rate for Flint is over 26% compared to Michigan’s overall state-wide unemployment rate of 15%. Twenty-eight percent of families are living in poverty and forty percent of families with children under the age of 18 are living in poverty. Violent crime is a persistent problem in Flint, which surpasses MI and national rates for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults. Flint has the 5th highest crime rate in the United States. Youth violence is of particular concern. In 2008, there were 99 violent crimes that involved victims under the age of 25 in the Durant-Tuuri-Mott neighborhood in Flint.

MI-YVPC is unique in that their approach to prevent youth violence involves several place-based initiatives, which aim to affect the behavior of groups of interrelated people by changing the physical context in which they interact and make choices. The overall approach involves implementing programs at the family and community level to decrease rates of youth violence in the Durant-Tuuri-Mott neighborhood. To evaluate their approach, MI-YVPC will compare the Durant-Tuuri-Mott neighborhood and comparison community on property assessments, police incidents, emergency department injuries, and communing survey data (including measures on neighborhood satisfaction, social capital, fear of crime, and level of neighborhood activism) using several statistical strategies.

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