Rape Prevention and Education Program

What is CDC’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program?

The RPE program works to prevent sexual violence by providing funding to state and territorial health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The RPE program recipients work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, including state sexual violence coalitions, educational institutions, rape crisis centers, community organizations, and other state agency partners to guide the implementation and evaluation of their state sexual violence prevention efforts.

CDC supports this work by providing tools, training, and technical assistance to RPE programs to promote the implementation and evaluation of programs, practices, and policies based on the best available evidence to prevent sexual violence.

The RPE program is authorized through the Violence Against Women Act, passed by Congress in 1994, and most recently reauthorized in 2013. In 2016, CDC received additional funding to support program evaluation research on programs implemented through RPE. Descriptions of these programs are available on CDC’s Funded Research page under the “2016” section.

What guides the work of the RPE program?

Primary prevention—stopping sexual violence before it begins—is the focus of the RPE program. Program activities are guided by a set of principles that include:

  • Preventing the first-time occurrence of sexual violence
  • Reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors linked to sexual violence perpetration and victimization
  • Using the best available evidence when planning, implementing, and evaluating prevention programs
  • Implementing comprehensive strategies that address individual, relationship, community, and societal factors
  • Analyzing state and community data, such as health and safety data, to inform program decisions and monitor trends
  • Evaluating prevention efforts and using the results to improve future program plans

The RPE program encourages the development of comprehensive prevention strategies using as guiding frameworks, the public health approach, and the social-ecological model (SEM). These frameworks guide the recipients to implement a range of activities to address the ways individual, relationship, community, and societal factors impact sexual violence.

This approach is more likely to prevent sexual violence across a lifetime than any single intervention and is also more likely to benefit the largest number of people and reduce sexual violence.

What are the current activities of the RPE program?

CDC’s current project, Rape Prevention and Education: Using the Best Available Evidence for Sexual Violence Prevention, requires RPE program recipients to work with partners to plan, implement, and evaluate sexual violence prevention strategies in alignment with STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence. pdf icon[2.84 MB, 48 Pages, 508]

This project places an increased emphasis on implementing community and societal-level strategies that create protective environments and provide opportunities to empower and support girls and women. RPE program recipients are required to implement at least half of their strategies at the community or societal levels. Ten RPE program recipients were awarded additional funding to implement 75% of their strategies at the community and societal levels.

Evidence-based examples of community and societal level strategies include:

  • Conducting hot-spot mapping and improving safety and monitoring in schools
  • Establishing and consistently applying school and workplace policies
  • Working with communities to improve safety and health in the built environment
  • Ensuring women have adequate work supports such as safe and affordable childcare and paid family leave policies
  • Improving educational and leadership opportunities for girls and women


See Sexual Violence Resources for articles, publications, and data sources for sexual violence.

Page last reviewed: February 9, 2022