Research Reports

Investing in Governance and Management Can Make Violence Reduction Efforts Successful


In recent years policymakers nationwide have begun committing more public funding to community violence intervention (CVI) in a renewed effort to reduce the toll of gun violence in America’s cities. CVI strategies aim to reduce gun violence by engaging individuals and groups to prevent and disrupt cycles of violence and retaliation, and by establishing relationships between individuals and community assets to deliver services that save lives, address trauma, provide opportunity, and improve the physical, social, and economic conditions that drive violence. CVI strategies complement traditional policing, and tend to rely both on frontline work by a credible and trusted community-based workforce and on aligned work by governmental institutions including mayors’ offices, police departments, prosecutors’ offices, and social service agencies.

Emerging research on CVI strategies is promising, particularly in reducing the risk of involvement in individual violence. However, even among cities that have committed significant funding to evidence-informed CVI work, success in driving down community-level rates of violence remains highly uneven.

In order to explore this apparent contradiction, the Joyce Foundation supported the Crime and Justice Policy Lab (CJP) at the University of Pennsylvania to convene a group of expert practitioners and produce an action research and practice agenda to clarify the challenges and opportunities inherent to implementing, managing and governing CVI work in cities.

To develop their action research agenda, CJP interviewed at least a half-dozen expert practitioners, researchers, and technical assistance providers, and asked them to reflect on the role of implementation, management and governance in sustaining effective CVI strategies. The brief notes that “there is a crucial gap holding back the field of violence reduction: an understanding of not just what programs or strategies to adopt, but how to manage and govern on the city level to reduce serious violence.”

The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, the National Network for Safe Communities, the California Partnership for Safe Communities, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research program were among those interviewed and collectively noted significant differences in outcomes across cities implementing CVI work, even when those cities were making significant funding available to frontline organizations and publicly committing to evidence-informed CVI practices.

CJP and the experts interviewed concluded that significant, continued investments in research were providing enormous value to the violence reduction field, but that further public and private investments in the following could help improve crucial and overlooked areas of practice:

  • Research: Support systematic study of how cities structure, govern, and manage violence reduction efforts at present, in order to help policymakers and practitioners understand of what key capacities – besides the presence or absence of funding – facilitate or inhibit effective and sustained CVI work.
  • Technical assistance: Use existing evidence to help cities develop effective strategies to strengthen any such key capacities (e.g. political will, effective management structures, etc.) critical for producing and sustaining violence reduction over time. Technical assistance in the CVI field currently focuses heavily –and understandably – on direct support for frontline organizations in building their capacity and elevating their management, but may be overlooking the role of city leadership.
  • Policy: Engage the field on how to sustain and enhance violence reduction efforts through governance and management.

This action research and practice agenda is timely, as the number of cities committing significant public funding to CVI strategies continues to increase. The U.S. Department of Justice alone has committed $100 million to communities nationwide to reduce community gun violence, with another $100 million to be announced in September 2023. This creates many new and important opportunities for public and private funders alike to support those cities in developing the implementation and management tools to fully leverage those dollars.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.


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