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Biden-Harris Administration’s “Community Violence Awareness Week” Highlights the Important Role CVI Organizations Play in Combating Gun Violence in Black Communities

February 9, 2024

Everytown Community Safety Fund and its Grantees Participated in the Biden-Harris Administrations’ “Community Violence Awareness Week”

WASHINGTON D.C. — Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration hosted multiple events highlighting the important role Community Violence Intervention (CVI) organizations play in the public safety ecosystem as part of their Black History Month programming. The White House’s “Community Violence Awareness Week” included participation from the Everytown Community Safety Fund and multiple of the Fund’s current and former grantees. The White House’s prioritization of CVI organizations in their Black History Month programming highlighted the important role these organizations play in gun violence prevention, and the need to resource and sustain these violence interrupters. 

“Cities and Black communities across the country continue to grapple with persistent gun violence, and community-based violence intervention groups are answering the call,” said Michael-Sean Spence, senior director of Community Safety Initiatives at Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and creator of the Everytown Community Safety Fund. “Investments in community violence intervention programs are proven methods to successfully make our communities safer. It’s especially important that these investments support Black-led organizations because they are trusted and know how to do the work in our communities. There is a continued need for increased support and resourcing to ensure these organizations continue to fulfill their promise, and we are incredibly grateful that the Biden-Harris Administration and the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention continue to uplift and invest in these critical violence interrupters.” 

“The work of community work and in particular violence intervention is about investing in the community, understanding our capacity, understanding the greatness and then being motivated with that knowledge,”… said Vice President Kamala Harris in her remarks at the Community Violence Awareness Week Culminating Ceremony. “When we are dealing with violence in the community, understand there are an extraordinary number of factors that have nothing to do with who an individual is, that will help you predict whether violence will occur in a community or not … Unless there is significant intervention – that includes putting the resources into diagnosis and treatment –  that the trauma will continue to be inherited and perpetuate itself in behaviors”

“We celebrate the increased support for CVI from officials at all government levels, with a special thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Dr. Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of the CVI Leadership Academy. “Today’s White House graduation, hosted by the new Office of Gun Violence Prevention, highlights the critical need to address the persistent safety gap in our country and enhance public safety in Black and Brown communities across the nation. Thanks to CVILA’s leadership education, our graduates are primed to implement sustainable CVI solutions, paving the way for healthy, thriving communities.”

“Communities like mine in New York City are dealing with a gun crisis that needs to be addressed through swift and meaningful community action with sustained resourcing,” said Oresa Napper-Williams, Founder and CEO of Not Another Child Inc. “Black communities are disproportionately impacted by gun violence and the current  Administration’s acknowledgement of this reality and  investment in trying to help find solutions through investing in our work is gratefully appreciated by us on the frontlines doing the work and the survivors who heal, recover and grow because of the support that is rendered through these efforts.

On Monday, the White House Office of Public Engagement’s Black Engagement Team hosted a virtual meeting with Black leaders on tackling gun violence in their communities, featuring Oresa Napper-Williams, executive Director of Not Another Child, a grantee of the Everytown Community Safety Fund. The “Community Violence Awareness Week” also included a roundtable with Black elected officials from across the country, virtual workshops for state and local CVI leaders on tapping into federal resources, and CVI site visits by the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention (WH OGVP). 

The programming ended Friday, with Vice President Harris hosting the inaugural Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVI LA) graduation, which is a University of Chicago Crime Lab initiative. The graduation also included remarks from Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Department of Justice’s Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Amy Solomon, Crime Lab’s Dr Chico Tillmon, Roseanna Ander and Dr. Jens Ludwig, Cities United executive director and Everytown Community Safety Fund board member Anthony Smith, and CVI LA graduates and current Everytown Community Safety Fund grantees Myesha Watkins and Oresa Napper-Williams. Seven of the graduates are current or former Everytown Community Safety Fund grantees. Everytown hosted the following reception. More about the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy can be found here

Gun violence in America disproportionately impacts Black communities — Black Americans are 12 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide. In fact, every 11 minutes, a Black American is shot and wounded, and every three hours, a young Black man dies by gun homicide in the United States. Young Black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts.

Generations of systemic racism and disinvestment have led to Black communities bearing the brunt of America’s gun violence epidemic. From housing instability to food insecurity, heightened rates of poverty to a lack of equitable educational and career opportunities, there are many factors that make gun violence a public health crisis that is intensely felt in Black communities. The disproportionate rates of gun violence among Black communities leaves memory scars and trauma that can shape the trajectory of children, adults, and the collective community in lasting ways.

Community Violence Intervention (CVI) organizations leverage earned trust and credibility to identify and engage high-risk individuals with evidence-informed approaches like street outreach and hospital-based violence intervention programs. These programs are on the frontlines in the cities with the highest gun violence and communities experiencing the disproportionate impact of gun violence. 

While historic investments have been made at all levels of government, CVI organizations still struggle to access promised funding and when they do, funding is restricted to programmatic expenses, preventing them from increasing staff, building their capacity or scaling to more people and places in need. 

To learn more about how gun violence impacts Black communities, visit here, and you can read more about Black leaders in the fight against gun violence here.Information about CVI investments and the Everytown Community Safety Fund can be found here.

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