Youth Violence Prevention: A Multi-System Strategy

Stoneleigh Fellow: Richard Greenwald, 2013-2016

In Philadelphia, the number of homicide and shooting victims ages 7-24, as well as juvenile arrests for major crime offenses are at their highest levels in decades and represent some of the highest youth violence rates in the nation.  While violence is a citywide problem, the most frequent and most violent crimes are concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods among the least educated population.  The majority of victims are young black males, ages 18 to 34 years old.  Notably, over 80% of Philadelphia’s victims of violence are also its offenders.

In September 2012, the City of Philadelphia was designated a National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention site by the US Department of Justice.  The National Forum is a collaborative effort between federal agencies and a network of cities to support the development, implementation and evaluation of cohesive strategies to prevent youth violence.

A coordinated, evidence-based plan for reducing youth violence in Philadelphia is necessary to increase the impact of the numerous programs and interventions throughout the city already struggling to change these trends.  The Philadelphia District Attorney, the state Attorney General, and the US Attorney for the Eastern District are committed to this same cause.  However, a successful partnership does not begin and end with law enforcement.  A truly coordinated strategy must also include active engagement from the School District of Philadelphia, public health, hospitals, parks and recreation, transportation, housing, prisoner reentry efforts and economic development.  Leveraging the City’s commitment with private industry and its strong academic research and philanthropic sectors are crucial.

Fellowship Project

Violence reduction is a complex, cross-cutting and multidisciplinary issue, requiring a concerted, sustained effort to forge solutions across disciplines and departments, inside and outside of government and, at the community and individual levels.  With the support of Mayor Nutter and other City leaders and staff, Richard Greenwald will was selected to lead a multi-disciplinary collaborative to develop and advance a connected youth violence prevention strategy for the City of Philadelphia.

This is a two-phase, three-year fellowship in which he is coordinating Philadelphia’s work to achieve a less violent city for youth and for all citizens:

Phase One:  Richard will assist the Mayor’s Steering Committee co-chairs and a Collaborative of stakeholders in carrying out the requirements of the National Forum grant.  This will involve a) creating a process to fulfill the National Forum obligations; b) providing a central point of communication, resource development and alignment of the contributions of the Collaborative's work groups; c) coordinating the development and buy-in for the underlying rationale that drives the strategy; and d) synthesizing the work-group contributions into a written plan.

Phase Two:  Richard will oversee the implementation, refinement, and evaluation of the plan.  He will a) develop a process for holding the responsible agencies and partners accountable for putting the strategy to work, b) seek revenue and other resources to sustain the effort, c) serve as a liaison to the other National Forum cities and government officials, and d) monitor progress towards desired outcomes.