University launches violence intervention fund to support community and university violence reduction efforts

A new University of Chicago fund designed to support and scale up community and academic violence reduction efforts is now accepting applications through September 1, 2022.

In a message to the University community on July 28, President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee announced the launch of the Violence Response Fund to support violence reduction and prevention efforts based on evidence by investing in local programs and building the evidence base for intervention with significant impact. The $15 million fund, which will support the work over a three-year period, is part of the University’s broader efforts to improve community safety in a collaborative way, including both enhanced safety measures and community interventions to address the root causes of violence.

Alivisatos announced in January the University’s plans to expand the fund. In the months that followed, the Office of Civic Engagement launched an input process that included community residents, public safety community leaders, nonprofit leaders affiliated with the Community Programs Accelerator of the University and members of the UChicago Community Medicine Advisory Board, among others.

“The Violence Intervention Fund is the University’s latest investment in violence prevention and community safety,” Alivisatos said. “This also serves as an opportunity to catalyze, support and help scale high-impact programs in collaboration with South Side community partners to reduce the violence that affects our shared community.”

This fund will complement the University’s ongoing investment in violence reduction initiatives focused on South Side communities and residents, particularly efforts to support youth, those at high risk of being involved in violence (as offenders or victims) and trauma reduction programs. Already this summer, these funds have supported three pilot programs focused on recovering from violence: a job training and entrepreneurship program in collaboration with Emerald South for local residents that will transform vacant land in Washington Park; a Chicago Public School Workforce Mentoring Program for disengaged youth; and UChicago Medicine’s Abuse Recovery Program.

In addition to these initial commitments, the Violence Intervention Fund will support two application tracks. Follow-on “pilot” grants will invest for one-year terms in promising new violence prevention programs or interventions that are milestone-based and include a data collection and evaluation component. Scale follow-on grants will invest in strengthening and scaling up existing, evidence-based violence intervention programs that have the highest likelihood of reducing violence in the nine intervention area. University neighborhoods: Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park and Woodlawn. Scale grants will support projects for up to three years, with renewal decisions based on demonstrated progress.

Proposals that meet the selection criteria will be accepted by academics and nonprofit community organizations, and faculty/community partnerships will be given priority consideration. The fund’s first call for applications is now open. Applications are due September 1, 2022, with notification of the first round for pilot and large-scale applications scheduled for early October 2022. An information session will be held on August 2 for community organizations interested in learning more about the funds and selection criteria. To learn more, visit the Violence Intervention Fund website.

The development of the Violence Intervention Fund builds on the University’s strong existing violence prevention initiatives and partnerships, including those based at UChicago Medicine; the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice; the Urban Labs of the Harris School of Public Policy; and other work through the University such as scholarships focused on education, housing, employment, and poverty reduction.

The Violence Intervention Fund is the latest addition to these and other established violence prevention and recovery initiatives on the UChicago campus. Information on grant recipients and project impact will be shared regularly, along with updates on related efforts.

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