About the Violence Prevention Initiative

Developed as a special initiative in 2008, the MCW Consortium on Public and Community Health has committed approximately $1.5M per year for up to 5 years to implement the MCW Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI). The goals of the VPI are to:

  • decrease violence in Milwaukee neighborhoods, and possibly, other areas of Wisconsin, and
  • strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence

The VPI’s efforts will be implemented through community-academic action teams of youth, parents, educators, and concerned neighbors throughout the city of Milwaukee and will focus on three major priorities:

  • educate, develop, catalyze and convene to build capacity for violence prevention
  • prevent and intervene early with youth ages 0-11 years
  • motivate and influence youth ages 12-17 years

These priorities emerged from extensive feedback from a 21-member community-academic Steering Committee, community members, youth, MCW faculty, staff and students through the following mechanisms:

  • 5 focus groups with 31 representatives from 24 initiatives through the Planning Council
  • 62 provider interviews
  • 3 focus groups with 16 provider
  • 18 youth interviews
  • 6 focus groups with 64 youth participants
  • 4 community events with 250 participants
  • 4 workgroups with 55 participants
  • 2 youth summits with 140 participants.
 What is the Violence Prevention Initiative?

The Violence Prevention Initiative is a community academic partnership that implements and evaluates evidence-based and best practice approaches to engage youth, parents, and communities to reduce violence in Milwaukee neighborhoods and build community capacity.

The VPI’s primary goals are to decrease rates of violence in identified areas of Milwaukee and, possibly, greater Wisconsin and to strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence. We accomplish this through three priority areas of: 1) Youth aged 0-11 years on prevention and early intervention with neighborhoods and schools; 2) Youth aged 12-17 years to influence and motivate with neighborhoods and schools; and 3) Educate, develop, catalyze and convene across all youth to build capacity for violence prevention with schools, neighborhoods and broader community.

 What are key accomplishments of the development phase?

Key accomplishments from the development phase include:

  1. Created VPI infrastructure
  2. Developed VPI Steering Committee
  3. Reviewed scientific research literature
  4. Identified successful local and national models
  5. Launched VPI community forums
  6. Conducted community and youth assessments to identify existing assets and programs
  7. Convened organizations to encourage exchange of information
  8. Defined VPI implementation model, principles, priorities and goals; and,
  9. Developed an implementation plan
 Who are the partners who are involved with the VPI?

The Violence Prevention Initiative has partnered with over 25 community organizations through four funded partnership teams. The funded partnership teams are:

  • Holton Youth + Family Center
  • United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM) Violence Prevention Initiative
  • Ripple Effect Milwaukee: Spreading Peace and Building Communities (REM)
  • Safe Schools Healthy Students Lindsay Heights Initiative
 How is the Violence Prevention Initiative funded? Will there be another funding cycle?

The Initiative is funded through the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin through the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program. Two community partnership teams were selected through a competitive application process to decrease violence in Milwaukee and strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence in 2010 and again in 2011. It is not anticipated to be another application process.

 Why Youth Violence is a Problem

The CDC has declared violence an epidemic in the United States. Violence is a significant public health problem that disproportionately affects youth. Homicide is the second leading cause of death among all youth ages 10 to 24, with an average of 16 young people murdered each day, and is the leading cause of death among African-American youth in the same age category. In 2007, more than 668,000 young people ages 10 to 24 years were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from violence, at an estimated cost that exceeds $158 billion per year. (CDC. Youth Violence Facts at a Glance, Summer 2009). In recognition of the severity of this problem, the Wisconsin State Health Plan 2010 deemed injury, including violence, “the most under-recognized major public health problem.”

 Violence is Preventable

The good news is that violence is preventable. Together we can prevent and reduce the impact of violence in our communities. There is a lot we know about how to engage youth and others in our communities to create a safer environment. Just as important, there are things we can do to reduce the emotional impact of violence on individuals to improve long-term health and mental well-being. Addressing the impact of violence can improve everyone’s life. Safer communities are strong communities. When youth feel safe, they are more likely to lead a healthy life.

 The Importance of a Medical College-Community Partnership

The MCW Youth Violence Prevention Initiative is a community-academic partnership strategy to prevent and address youth related violence. Community-academic partnerships demonstrate how the benefits of working together extend well beyond individual efforts. Partnerships capitalize on academic and community strengths to empower both to take a more active role in the improvement of health. Community strengths include: knowledge of community resources and needs, relationships with community leaders and members, knowledge of past successes and failures in addressing community needs, and expertise in program implementation and community organizing. MCW strengths include: expertise in research, evidence-based practice, data analysis, evaluation, neutral convener, and community-academic partnerships. Community strengths include: knowledge of community resources and needs, relationships with community leaders and members, knowledge of past successes and failures in addressing community needs, and expertise in program implementation and community organizing.

By developing strong community-academic partnerships, the VPI can capitalize on strengths of both community and academics; provide an opportunity for community and academic partners to share knowledge and work together to improve the public’s health; and bridge the gap between prevention research and community interventions.

 The Public Health Approach to Violence Prevention and Reduction

A public health approach to reducing violence places emphasis on preventing violence before it occurs, making science integral to identifying effective policies and programs, and integrating the efforts of diverse scientific disciplines, organizations, and communities.

Using a public health approach, community and academic partners can identify high-risk populations and implement prevention and educational interventions to make a substantial reduction in violence.

By adopting this approach, the VPI seeks to address violence through key principles of a public health approach including:

  • investing in prevention
  • addressing the root causes
  • adopting a learn-as-we go approach
  • emphasizing coordinated action
  • intervening early, and
  • working with the community

Community Participation is Vital

As a community, we must work collaboratively to recognize youth who may be at-risk and provide them with the support they need. Community members can work with community leaders, grassroots activists, business people, government officials and nonprofits to reach community objectives. A sustained effort at all levels of society will be required to successfully address this complex and deeply-rooted problem.

How to Become Involved

  • Subscribe to our community listserv (mcw@vpi.htm) to receive updates on VPI activities and opportunities
  • Sign up to receive our bi-monthly newsletter
  • E-mail us with questions, suggestions and information that can benefit the Violence Prevention Initiative
  • Watch for opportunities to participate in community sessions, conversations or meetings designed to help reduce youth violence in your area

Contact Us

VPI Community Office
1801 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53212

(414) 955-2699
(414) 955-0114 (fax)
Contact Us Form

VPI Site Map

Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-8296
Directions & Maps
© 2015

Page Updated 08/19/2015