Learn About the YVPCs

History of the YVPCs

Following the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, (then) Senators Arlen Specter, R-PA, and Tom Harkin, D-IA, formed a legislative committee on violence prevention to encourage collaboration among federal agencies. The committee recognized that academic institutions provide strong foundations for scientific research and the development of diverse partnerships—two things necessary to encourage new youth violence prevention research and practice, empower communities to act, and increase translation of knowledge into health and community practice. This legislative initiative led to the development of CDC’s National Academic Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (now called Youth Violence Prevention Centers, or YVPCs).

Mission and Goals of YVPCs

YVPC Building Community Preventing Violence

The mission of the YVPCs is to research and prevent youth violence by identifying and testing innovative violence prevention approaches and to strengthen the use of effective prevention strategies in communities.

YVPCs across the country partner with communities experiencing some of the nation’s highest rates of violence to develop youth violence prevention strategies. Over time, YVPC activities have been guided by the following goals:

  • Use effective violence surveillance tools to monitor trends in youth violence
  • Partner with community organizations to build capacity to prevent violence
  • Conduct interdisciplinary research to rigorously evaluate prevention strategies
  • Develop community approaches for youth violence prevention that are scalable and can inform national prevention efforts

Why Focus on Community-Level Prevention

Prevention strategies at the community level have the potential to reach more people and may be more cost-effective and sustainable than individual and relationship-level prevention strategies. However, there is a gap in the evidence about effective approaches to reduce community-level risk factors for youth violence. YVPCs are addressing this gap by implementing and evaluating prevention strategies that can have community-level impacts on youth violence. Community-level prevention strategies focus on changing the neighborhood, school, and workplace characteristics that increase or buffer against risk for violence. Check out Creating Protective Community Environments to Support Healthy Youth Development and Prevent Youth Violence [2 MB, 4 Pages] for more information.

Building community. Preventing violence
The YVPCs research effective violence prevention approaches to promote thriving youth and build safer communities.