Special Initiative Projects

The Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) was a special funding initiative of the MCW Consortium on Public and Community Health through the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment’s Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program. When the VPI funding period closed at its natural end date, the Consortium enlisted an external evaluator, ORS Impact, to assess the activities that had occurred during the funding period and provide structure for moving forward.

ORS Impact noted the following:

  1. Activities aimed at strengthening the individual knowledge and skills of youth and parents received the greatest emphasis.
  2. All of the partnerships implemented activities targeted at promoting community education within the specific neighborhoods in which they were based. In addition, activities also focused on strengthening communities.
  3. Educating providers received some emphasis.
  4. Fostering coalitions and networks was a major focus of activities. No activities specifically focused on changing organizational practices, although the relationships built within the partnerships did alter communication among organizations when youth were in trouble.
  5. Activities aimed at influencing policy and legislation were undertaken.

A broad consensus emerged that a public health approach is needed and that one cannot isolate violence from social conditions. ORS Impact has suggested that, moving forward, actions should focus on systems change goals and include those that address the root causes of youth violence, with a focus on improving education outcomes, employment opportunities, and stable families and neighborhoods.

Based on the recommendations, the Consortium will actively seek ways in which, as a funder of community health improvement in Wisconsin, the AHW Endowment can turn to changemaker roles outside of investor, to act as a:

  1. Broker – facilitating relationships between those organizations we have already invested in with new investors
  2. Convener – with its neutral position, the Endowment can be more proactive in bringing together the numerous smaller initiatives that have emerged in Milwaukee related to youth violence
  3. Learner – investigating through the research resources of MCW the numerous programs around the country that are proving to be effective
  4. Influencer  – influencing local and national funders, decision makers and other sectors to recognize the foundational work that has been launched in Milwaukee and opportunities to use that as a springboard
  5. Partner  – joining with like-minded Milwaukee-based leaders interested in developing the next phase of violence prevention

We invite you to read the ORS Impact report (PDF) in its entirety and contact the AHW Endowment to explore how you can join the Consortium as we further develop our roles as broker, convener, learner, influencer and partner.

Violence Prevention Initiative logo

Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI)

In July 2008, the Consortium launched an 18-month process to shape an initiative focused on preventing youth violence. Based on a review of the research base on public health approaches to preventing youth violence, a community needs and asset mapping exercise, and extensive feedback from a 21-member community-academic Steering Committee, community members, youth, MCW faculty, staff, and students, the following three priority areas emerged:

  1. Prevent and intervene early with youth ages 0-11 years with neighborhoods and schools
  2. Influence and motivate youth ages 12-17 years with neighborhoods and schools
  3. Educate, develop, catalyze, and convene across all youth to build capacity for violence prevention with neighborhoods, schools, and the broader community

The Consortium developed a funding structure for the VPI that responded to this pressing need in Milwaukee. The overall goal of VPI was to decrease rates of violence in specific areas of Milwaukee and to strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence. The initiative used both a public health and asset-based model that focused on community strengths. This approach emphasized preventing violence before it occurs, making public health science integral to identifying effective policies and programs, and integrating the efforts of diverse scientific disciplines, local organizations, and communities.

The Consortium allocated funding of up to $8.2M for a funding period beginning February 2010 and ending June 2015 to a partnership that included Medical College of Wisconsin staff and faculty and four community partner teams representing 29 community-based organizations. By investing in this initiative, collaborating with many people and groups, and addressing the complex problem of violence from a public health standpoint, the initiative sought to decrease violence and prevent its increase in the future.

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  Academic Partners:

John Meurer, MD, MBA - Institute for Health and Society
Staci Young, PhD - Department of Family and Community Medicine

  Community Partners:

In 2010, 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 2011, two community partnership teams were selected through a competitive application process to decrease violence in Milwaukee and strengthen community capacity to prevent future violence:

  Project Progress:
  Project Dissemination Efforts (as reported by project partners):
  • Articles
    • Featured in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Awards
    • Award received from the Unity for Service National Exchange Club for VPI’s special contribution to the prevention of crime in the community
  • Outreach Materials/Events
    • Distributed a Communications Flyer at multiple community events
    • Developed and distributed a bi-monthly newsletter to over 440 people
    • Co-sponsored a full-day community workshop with Safe and Sound focused on the usefulness of evidence-based practice and the importance of rigorous outcome evaluation in local programs
    • Hosted the “Bridging the Divide: Evidence Based Programming and Pragmatic Solutions to Violence Prevention” Conference on June 16, 2011
    • Developed and distributed the “Evidence for Action” report providing data to help understand the scope of youth violence
    • Participation by Dr. Hargarten in “Emerging Issues in Adolescent Health” consultation event hosted by Johns Hopkins University in October 2011
    • Participation by Dr. Hargarten in the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence workshop “Communication and Technology for Violence Prevention” in December 2011
    • Developed and launched the Community Café Series: Nurturing a Caring Community providing education and discussion forums for community members
    • Highlighted in a radio interview on WUWM-FM88.9
    • Developed and distributed a VPI Fact Sheet and Brochure to community partnership teams and at various community events
    • Hosted a Resource Exchange Conference
    • Panelist participation by Dr. Mallory O'Brien for the 4th Street Forum, A Conversation: Violence, Guns and Our Culture in February 2013
    • Panel discussion at Sugar Maple in April 2013
    • Interview with Marquette University's Urban Journalism program on VPI efforts
  • Presentations
    • Presented at a skill-building session at the 2010 HWPP Community Engagement for Health Conference in October 2010
    • Presentation at the Mental Illness in Our Community: Lessons from Tucson Shooting Tragedy conference hosted by the MCW Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
    • Presentation at the HWPP Community Engagement Conference in April 2011
    • Presentation at the AHW-WPP Leading the Way Joint Conference in September 2012
    • Presentation at the MCW Institute for Health and Society Retreat
    • Presentation at the University of Wisconsin Madison’s “Guns in America: Conflicting Points of View” Conference
    • Presentation at the "I Will Not Die Young Campaign" at Milwaukee Public Schools in March 2013
    • Presentation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Global Action Through Engagement (GATE) in June 2013
    • Presentation at MCW PhD Orientation in August 2013
    • Presentation to the MCW Pathways Program in October 2013
    • Presentations to the Men's Network of Community Baptist Church in August and September 2013, Community Baptist Church of Greater Milwaukee in September November 2013, Redemption Fellowship Church in November 2013
    • Presentation to the Milwaukee Rotary Club in October 2013
    • Presentation at Brighter Futures to leaders of youth serving organizations in December 2013
    • Presentation at Thomas More High School in December 2013
    • Presentation at UWM Global Action Through Engagement in July 2013
    • Presentation at the American Public Health Association Conference in November 2013
    • Presentation at the Gun Summit: Coming Together in November 2013
    • Presentation at the Intergenerational Symposium in November 2013
    • Presentation at the UWM Black Male Youth Achievement in December 2013
    • Presentation to 130 high school students on public health approaches to violence prevention and local resources
    • Presentation to 70 City Year Milwaukee corps on local violence prevention efforts and related career paths
    • Presentation to 30 high school students at the MPS Youth Summit on local data and violence prevention resources
    • Panel presentation to MCW medical students and community members on gun violence
    • Presentation at Amigos Rotary de Milwaukee on gun violence as a public health issue
    • Presentation to elected Wisconsin officials
    • Poster and roundtable presentations at the American Public Health Association Conference, with Holton Youth + Family Center Collaborative and Ripple Effect Milwaukee community partner teams (November 2014)
  • Publications
    • Co-authorship by Staci Young, PhD, entitled “Medical College of Wisconsin Violence Prevention Initiative Facilitating IRB Review of Community-Based Participatory Research” for the Association of American Medical Colleges
Contact Us

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP)
(414) 955-4350 | healthierwisconsin@mcw.edu