National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention

At a glance

  • Youth Violence Prevention Centers (YVPCs) help communities benefit from scientific advances that prevent youth violence.
  • Through these local partnerships, CDC funds programs to help develop, implement, and evaluate promising prevention efforts.


In 1999, a shooting occurred at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In response to the event, politicians formed a legislative committee focused on violence prevention. The committee identified two needs for youth violence prevention: scientific research and diverse partnerships. Academic institutions provided strong foundations for fulfilling these needs.

Combined with collaboration between federal agencies, the committee emphasized three key points:

  1. Encourage new youth violence prevention research and practice
  2. Empower communities to act
  3. Apply research findings to health and community practice

This legislative effort grew into CDC's National Academic Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention. The centers were created in 2000 and they are now known as Youth Violence Prevention Centers (YVPCs).

Mission and goals

The mission of the YVPCs is to research and prevent youth violence. YVPCs identify and test innovative violence prevention approaches. YVPCs also strengthen the use of effective prevention strategies in communities.

YVPCs across the country partner with local communities to develop youth violence prevention strategies. These are typically communities experiencing some of the nation's highest rates of violence. The following goals have guided YVPC activities:

  • 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 youth violence prevention approaches that are scalable and can inform national prevention efforts.

Prevention strategies create safer communities

Prevention strategies at the community level have the potential to reach more people. This may be more cost-effective and sustainable than individual and relationship-level prevention strategies. However, there is a gap in evidence about effective approaches to lower 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 neighborhood, school, and workplace characteristics that increase or protect against risk for violence.

Current centers

CDC has been funding YVPCs since 2000. For information about previously funded YVPCs, please reach out to

Five centers have received funding for the 2021–2026 cycle. This research will help create local solutions to reduce community rates of youth violence across the United States.

Keep reading to learn about the research projects descriptions for the 2021–2026 YVPCs.

Center for Youth Equity at Tulane University

This project will establish the first CDC-funded prevention research center in the Gulf South explicitly focused on youth violence prevention.

The need for community-centered, strengths-based approaches that address critical barriers to prevention shapes the root causes and disproportionate rates of youth violence in African American communities. Tulane’s work will create a hub for research and community-engaged outreach and translation for the Gulf South region. The hub will also include training and education in youth violence and injury prevention.

The Center will implement and evaluate a multi-component program. The program's goal is to prevent and reduce exposure to police violence among African American youth. They plan to accomplish this through youth-led grassroots organizing for social and structural change. This program will also evaluate the effects of a hospital-initiated, community-integrated, practice-based approach in reducing gun violence among African American youth.

Kansas City Youth Violence Prevention Research Center

Similar to national trends, Black and Latino youth experience disparities in violence both nationally and in the Kansas City metro area. The Kansas City YVPC is designed to expand the evidence base for participatory strategies to prevent and reduce youth violence, particularly among Black and Latino youth. Strategies include:

  • ThrYve4Change, a youth mobilization strategy.
  • REVIVE (Reducing the Effects of Violence through Intervention and Victim Empowerment), a scaled multisite hospital violence prevention program.

This project will study changes in community conditions, risk and protective factors, firearm-related hospital admissions, and youth homicides.

Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center

Structural factors associated with racism and inequitable distribution of resources are determinants of violence, including interpersonal firearm violence. The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center's (MI-YVPC) project results will be used to create toolkits for community and youth-engaged firearm violence prevention. These toolkits can be translated to multiple contexts. MI-YVPC will implement and evaluate emergency department and community-driven strategies to advance youth firearm injury prevention in:

  • Muskegon, Michigan, and its surrounding area.
  • Washington, DC.

MI-YVPC will use a multi-case study design to analyze community-level police incidents and injury data. This project will also include a public health leadership training program for undergraduate and graduate students in underrepresented groups.

Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development – Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Healthy Communities for Youth

Young people make up the majority of homicide victims in Richmond, Virginia. African American youth are disproportionately impacted. VCU’s project will help identify strategies that prevent and lower rates of youth violence in Richmond and similar communities. VCU’s efforts will support implementing and evaluating complementary participatory strategies for preventing youth violence in three Richmond communities experiencing economic disadvantage. Impact will be measured based on community-level indicators of youth violence exposure. The strategies include:

  • A culturally responsive curriculum for African American adolescents.
  • A method where youth and adults identify and develop an action plan to address social and structural conditions.
  • Hospital-based violence prevention.
  • Partner education to build capacity for youth-serving grassroots organizations.

Youth Violence Prevention Center-Denver

The YVPC-Denver project is designed to build the science and create a collaborative, practical, culturally informed approach for violence prevention. YVPC-Denver’s project will use a youth-community-university partnership to implement and evaluate the following youth violence prevention strategies:

  • The Power of One for Youth Engagement Initiative
  • Violence Prevention and Interruption through Bystander Reporting and Social Media Monitoring
  • Enhancing Youth Athletics and Career Development Programs

This project will take place in two Denver, Colorado, communities experiencing a high violence burden.

Youth will also receive training through a youth advisory council and an early career researcher program. YVPC-Denver will measure success through reduced rates of youth violence, increases in positive social opportunities, and sustainable improvements in public health practices.