Our research center’s core project, Building Evidence for Firearm Violence Prevention, focuses on addressing the root causes of youth violence and building the evidence base for youth firearm violence prevention in two U.S. cities: Muskegon, MI, and Washington, D.C. While these locations differ in size and context, they share a history of racism, disinvestment, and economic inequality. As a result, both cities are now experiencing elevated youth firearm violence.
In each community, dedicated organizations and individuals are working to prevent further violence and create safe and healthy communities. Our community partners have expertise in public health practice and youth development. Our center leverages community knowledge through cross-city learning exchanges that bring youth and adult community leaders together to plan shared prevention initiatives. Our project supports community-based organizations in each location with their prevention efforts.
Economic decline, racial segregation, and persistent inequality are associated with an elevated pattern of youth firearm violence in the City of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights. Significant community health disparities demonstrate the need for interventions that increase opportunities for positive youth development and promote community safety and health equity.
Our Michigan Community Advisory Board (CAB) will support our grassroots prevention strategy, Addressing Root Causes: Evaluation of Youth-Led Strategies for Gun Violence Prevention (ARC-GVP) by connecting us with partners and helping with data collection, evaluation, translation, and dissemination. Our CAB will also ensure the success of our SafERteens Multisite Implementation Trial, by helping integrate the SafERteens intervention throughout the healthcare system in the Muskegon area. We are also establishing a Youth Advisory Board to guide strategy implementation and participate in learning exchange activities.
Other partners in Muskegon, MI include the Trinity Health Emergency Department, Trinity Health Primary Care Network, Fruitport Family Medicine Clinic, Muskegon Pediatrics, HealthWest, and Gaining Unity through Non-Violent Solutions (GUNS).
Segregation and systemic racism have resulted in decades of economic disinvestment in Washington D.C.’s historically Black neighborhoods, including Wards 7 and 8. These areas are the epicenter of a worsening epidemic of firearm violence in the city. Our D.C. project site will focus on Wards with a significant need for firearm violence prevention, including Wards 7 and 8.
Our core partner in Washington D.C. is The True Reasons I Grabbed the Gun Evolved from Risks (T.R.I.G.G.E.R) Project. T.R.I.G.G.E.R was founded and is directed by Tia Bell, a survivor of gun violence, who is dedicated to increasing youth voice and leadership in gun violence prevention.
The T.R.I.G.G.E.R project is engaging a Community Advisory Board (CAB) and a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to guide capacity-building and prevention activities. The YAB helps to implement the T.R.I.G.G.E.R project’s summer program (T.R.I.G.G.E.R University), mentor program participants, and organize community outreach and prevention projects to raise awareness about the root causes of firearm violence in D.C. The D.C YAB will also participate in learning exchange activities with our Muskegon YAB.
Additional partners include Washington D.C.’s Office for Gun Violence Prevention and the USAODC Violent Crime Working Group.