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by Bass Zanjani

In December 2014, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) issued a grant to bring together the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, the Community-Based Violence Prevention program, and the Defending Childhood Initiative under one umbrella for training and technical assistance (TTA). The convening of three separate initiatives was in part based on understanding that to address factors affecting violence and ultimately eliminate youth violence altogether, a shared framework is required.

While these initiatives have unique strengths and differences, they share a vision and objective to end violence and trauma and ensure the well-being of young people throughout the country. The unified TTA grant takes the first step by providing crosscutting resources that allow sites in all three programs to learn from each other. In an effort to better understand and support the sites, a needs assessment was developed and implemented. Additionally, Development Services Group (DSG) is in the process of reaching out to the cities to gain a broader perspective on key issues related to governance, sustainability, and TTA. Based on the sites' responses in the needs assessment and follow-up calls, DSG will issue a report to OJJDP that delineates a wide range of crosscutting TTA ideas.

In the spirit of taking a shared approach to TTA, we are establishing a unified communications platform that highlights and promotes the tremendous work being done across the initiatives. In this issue of the Forum newsletter, we want to first introduce our readers to the other two programs and lay out our initial plan for expanding coverage to focus on the Community-Based Violence Prevention program and Defending Childhood Initiative.

The Community-Based Violence Prevention (CBVP) program is working to stop youth gang and gun violence by taking evidence-based deterrence and public health approaches in 16 cities. CBVP is characterized by partnerships among law enforcement, service providers, residents, and community- and faith-based organizations. The initiative's overarching goal is to reduce violence in targeted communities through the replication of programs such as Operation Ceasefire, the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model, and the Cure Violence model.

CBVP aims to change community norms regarding violence, provide alternatives to violence when gangs and individuals in the community are exhibiting dangerous behaviors, and increase awareness of perceived risks and consequences of involvement in violence among high-risk youth. To accomplish this, communities must develop and implement evidence-based programs and strategies that reduce and prevent violence—particularly shootings and killings. They must build multidisciplinary partnerships to create and implement strategic plans driven by local data that champion a combination of prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry strategies.

Similar to the National Forum, many sites have involved local political leaders in the effort. For example, in Syracuse, N.Y., Mayor Ann Miner chairs and leads work in the community along with a host of stakeholders, including the philanthropic community.

Unified by a paradigm that fosters alignment and cross-discipline learning to reduce violence, representatives from the National Forum, Community-Based Violence Prevention program, and Defending Childhood Initiative will come together on May 11–13, 2015, at the National Summit. Likewise, the newsletter will reflect the shared framework, with articles and resources tailored to the Forum and CBVP initiatives. In the future, we hope to expand our coverage even further, to feature the great progress of the Defending Childhood Initiative.

We are always open to your ideas and welcome your suggestions for new and emerging topics. Please help us cover the issues most important and compelling to you. After all, the newsletter is meant to serve as a reflection of your efforts and the remarkable work being done in your communities.


Bass Zanjani, Project Director