Learn About the YVPCs

History, mission, goals, current and past initiatives.

History of the YVPCs

The Beginning

On April 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were murdered and 21 additional people were injured at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Though this incident was not the first act of school violence ever perpetrated, it became a catalyst for the introduction of actions to prevent youth violence.

Legislative Action

Following Columbine, then-Senators Arlen Specter, D-PA, and Tom Harkin, D-IA, spearheaded a legislative committee on violence prevention that encouraged collaboration among federal agencies, such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The committee and others felt that what was known about violence prevention should be more readily put into practice. Academic health centers, such as universities and colleges, were recognized as leaders who could build the scientific infrastructure and multi-disciplinary partnerships necessary to stimulate 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 (ACE) in Youth Violence Prevention.

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 strategies in communities.

YVPCs across the country partner with communities experiencing some of the nation’s highest rates of violence to develop violence prevention strategies. YVPC activities have evolved over time as they have advanced knowledge about how communities can effectively prevent youth violence. Over time, YVPC activities have been guided by the following goals:

  • Use effective violence surveillance tools to conduct interdisciplinary research
  • Partner with and build capacity of community organizations to prevent violence
  • Rigorously evaluate innovative prevention strategies
  • Develop community models for youth violence prevention that are scalable and can inform national prevention efforts

Current YVPCs

The current National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (YVPCs) include three centers funded in 2015 and two centers funded in 2016. Knowledge gained from this research will inform local solutions for youth violence prevention in other communities across the country. The primary objectives of these Centers are to:

  • Partner with community organizations, leaders, and stakeholders with the common goal of reducing youth violence
  • Implement and rigorously evaluate community- and/or policy-level prevention strategies in high burden communities
  • Document the implementation of these strategies for future replication
  • Evaluate the relationship between community readiness and capacity and prevention effectiveness

2015-2020 and 2016-2021 YVPCs include:

Site Descriptions

University of Chicago

Community-level prevention approaches that empower residents to take action, combine resources, and form partnerships is a critical first step to reduce violence. Researchers from the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) are collaborating with the University of Chicago, Bright Star Community Outreach, Northwestern University, and other community organizations to prevent violence in Bronzeville, a southeast Chicago neighborhood. This unique academic-community partnership is implementing the Communities That Care (CTC) model. CTC engages the community to use data to understand youth violence and identify, implement, and evaluate existing and new evidence-based, community-led solutions. The CCYVP will assess the impact of CTC on school- and community-level youth crime and violence. They will also analyze how prevention strategies driven by community partnerships affect youth violence and other forms of violence among youth, such as teen dating and intimate partner violence. Additionally, current prevention strategies, such as Chicago’s Green Healthy Neighborhoods Large Lots Program and the Safe Passage Program, will be evaluated for their impact on reducing youth violence.

Learn more. https://ssascholars.uchicago.edu/chicago-center-youth-violence-preventionexternal icon

University of Colorado, Boulder

An infrastructure to support coordinated, comprehensive youth violence prevention is critical but often lacking in high-burden communities. The Youth Violence Prevention Center-Denver (YVPC-D) is a collaboration among the University of Colorado – Boulder, University of Colorado School of Medicine/Children’s Hospital Colorado, and local organizations in the Montbello and Northeast Park Hill communities of Denver, CO. To prevent youth violence, this unique academic-community partnership is implementing Communities that Care (CTC) using a community-driven process to collect data on risk and protective factors, create an action plan of community- and policy-level prevention strategies, and implement and evaluate the impact of the strategies. Both communities will integrate a violence risk-screening tool into routine adolescent health risk assessments in clinical settings to help practitioners address youth violence as a healthcare issue. YVPC-D will assess the impact of CTC and the implemented prevention strategies on community-level youth crime and violence. They will also analyze how prevention strategies driven by community partnerships affect youth violence risk and protective factors and outcomes. Finally, they will assess the impact of community readiness and capacity to build a local youth violence prevention infrastructure and reduce youth violence. An implementation roadmap will be developed so that other communities can replicate and benefit from Denver’s successes.

Learn more. https://cspv.colorado.edu/what-we-do/initiatives/yvpc-denver/external icon

University of Louisville

Changing norms about the acceptability of violence as a way to resolve conflicts is a promising youth violence prevention strategy that requires additional study. The University of Louisville Youth Violence Prevention Research Center (UofL YVPRC) is working with community partners in West Louisville, KY to develop, implement, and evaluate a social and traditional media campaign to create community pride, increase commitment of youth to use nonviolent solutions, and foster community norms that violence is preventable. UofL YVPRC conducted community discussion groups, youth interviews, a community readiness and leadership survey, and focus groups to inform the campaign’s development. The campaign integrates African American history and concepts of positive racial identity to raise critical consciousness and social action in an effort to reduce youth violence. UofL YVPRC will evaluate the impact of the social norming campaign on school and community crime and violence. They will assess changes in perceived norms over time and analyze the cost-effectiveness of developing a social norming campaign to reduce incidents of violence among youth. They will also examine the relationship between community capacity/readiness, the implementation of a norming campaign, and reductions in youth violence. The development and implementation of the social norming campaign is being documented to inform replication and scalability in other communities.

Learn more. http://www.pridepeaceprevention.orgexternal icon

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Improving and sustaining a safe physical environment in communities and creating spaces to strengthen social relationships is a promising youth violence prevention strategy. The current work of the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center (MI-YVPC) is guided by a collaboration among the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Rutgers University, the U.S. Forest Service, the Center for Community Progress, land banks, economic development organizations, health departments, hospitals, police departments, and community-based organizations in three cities: Flint, MI, Youngstown, OH, and Camden, NJ. To prevent youth violence, these partners are improving vacant properties and evaluating for positive effects on youth violence, property crimes, and violence-related injuries. Turning shabby properties into usable spaces for positive social interaction and subsequently reducing youth violence is consistent with principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and is often referred to as “greening.” The MI-YVPC will assess the impact of different approaches to property maintenance on changes to the physical environment and community-level youth crime and violence. They will also identify the community readiness and capacity needed to implement a successful greening program and document the implementation process. MI-YVPC will use research findings and lessons learned from over 100 communities implementing greening programs to develop and disseminate an implementation guide.

Learn more. http://yvpc.sph.umich.edu/external icon

Virginia Commonwealth University

Effective youth violence prevention programs are available but underutilized, and more information is needed about approaches that change community-level risks for violence. Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development and its partners in Richmond, VA are implementing the Communities That Care (CTC) model, which engages the community to use data to understand youth violence and identify, implement, and rigorously evaluate multiple evidence-based activities. They are adding to the model a Walker Talker and Community Conversation approach and calling the prevention strategy CTC Plus. The Walker Talkers are community outreach workers who have conversations with community residents to educate and share information about positive opportunities for youth and ways to reduce youth risk. VCU Clark Hill Institute will assess the impact of CTC Plus on community-level youth crime and violence. They will also analyze how prevention strategies driven by community partnerships affect youth violence, estimate program costs and cost-effectiveness , and assess the impact of community readiness/capacity on youth violence outcomes. Knowledge gained will strengthen Richmond’s youth violence prevention approach and inform how to prevent violence in other communities across the country.

Learn more. http://www.clarkhill.vcu.edu/external icon

Past Initiatives

Four were funded in 2010 and two YVPCs were funded in 2011. The primary objectives of these YVPCs were to:

  • Partner with communities experiencing a high burden of youth violence
  • Implement and evaluate the effectiveness of comprehensive youth violence prevention strategies addressing risk and protective factors at the individual-, relationship-, and community-levels using evidence-based approaches
  • Use rigorous evaluation designs to assess the impact of these comprehensive approaches on reducing youth violence over time.

 

The YVPCs in 2010-2015 and 2011-2016 included:

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

Eight were funded in 2005 and two YVPCs funded in 2006.  The primary objectives of these YVPCs were to:

  • Monitor the magnitude and distribution of youth violence in a defined community
  • Foster collaboration between researchers and communities by bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives
  • Mobilize and empower communities to address youth violence
  • Build the scientific infrastructure necessary to support the development and widespread application of effective youth violence interventions
  • Promote interdisciplinary research strategies to address youth violence in a defined community

 

The YVPCs in 2005-2010 and 2006-2011 included:

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Meharry Medical College
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Hawaii at Mānoa
  • University of Illinois, Chicago / University of Chicago
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

In 2000, the Centers were established. The primary objectives were to:

  • Develop the infrastructure to conduct interdisciplinary research relevant to youth violence
  • Create partnerships with communities to develop plans to address youth violence
  • Support the surveillance of youth violence in their specific communities
  • Conduct etiological work on risk and protective factors in youth violence
  • Develop, test, and implement violence prevention strategies
  • Mentor and train professionals to address youth violence

 

The YVPCs in 2000-2005 included:

  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Puerto Rico
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
Building community. Preventing violence

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

Page last reviewed: July 30, 2018