The Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) uses a community-focused, public health approach to prevent violence and keep communities safe. We work to break the cycle of violence by addressing it at three points: before it begins, at the first sign of risk, and after an incident. We refer to these as “Up front,” “In the thick,” and “Aftermath.” Our office also builds capacity with other groups so that we can expand our focus to many forms of violence.
Up front initiatives
Youth outreach and engagement
Youth workers engage young people at places they spend time in the neighborhood. They build relationships, offer resources, and create welcoming spaces. They improve connections between youth and trusted adults. For this work, we partner with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board.
Coaching boys into men
High school coaches use a curriculum to talk with athletes about healthy relationships. This evidence-based model helps prevent dating and relationship violence. We work with coaches at North, Henry, and Edison high schools and the Run and Shoot basketball league.
In the thick initiatives
We work with the nonprofit, Tubman, to provide long-term prevention and intervention services to young people ages 10-17. These services focus on case management and mentorship for youth who are at risk of being involved with violence. Youth enter the program with a referral from schools or a juvenile diversion program.
Juvenile supervision center
The Juvenile Supervision Center (JSC) provides supervision, needs assessment, resource and referral, and aftercare services for young people ages 10-17 who encounter law enforcement for truancy, curfew, and low-level offenses. The center is open 24/7, located in City Hall, and shared by the City, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Hennepin County. The Link serves as the contracted services provider for the JSC.
Project LIFE/Group Violence Intervention (GVI)
Group Violence Intervention (GVI) reduces street group-involved homicide and gun violence. Our strategy is to reduce peer dynamics in the group that promote violence. We help create accountability, foster internal social pressure that deters violence, and set clear community standards against violence. GVI offers group members an “honorable exit” from committing acts of violence, and provides a path for those who want to change.
Next Step is a hospital-based program that connects victims of violent injury to resources and support. The program works with people who are in the hospital because they are the victim of a stabbing or gunshot. Staff provide immediate bedside support for participants and their families. They meet with participants who want further support with changing their lives and stopping the cycle of violence.
Participants receive long-term individual support once they are back in the community. Support may include:
- job training and employment
- finding a safe place to live
- basic needs including food, transportation, clothing, hygiene, and parenting items
- accessing victim resources, including information about victim rights and financial help for crime victims
- accessing resources to manage trauma
- help graduating from high school, getting a GED, and/or enrolling in post-secondary education
- help with continuing medical care
About the MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative
The MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative has teams of violence interrupters on the streets in neighborhoods now. The interrupters wear bright orange "MinneapolUS" t-shirts highlighting our purpose: to address the root causes of violence together as a community. The Minneapolis Health Department's Office of Violence Prevention initiative complements existing outreach organizations' work already on our streets, employing a specific approach built on the idea that violence is a public health issue. By identifying and interrupting conflicts and working to promote community healing, the initiative is intended to break the "contagious" aspects of violence such as retaliation. This approach is rooted in the power of our local communities. At the same time, it draws from strategies like Cure Violence, which has been effectively implemented across the globe.
How does it work?
Trusted community members work as outreach workers on neighborhood-specific teams to interrupt the cycle of violence and build safe and thriving communities.
- Outreach workers are people who already have strong relationships and credibility with young adults, neighborhood members, community leaders and service providers. They are also personally familiar with the impact violence has on communities.
- They detect potentially violent events and use informal mediation, non-physical conflict resolution and interruption expertise to de-escalate situations before they become violent. By doing that, they work to cool violence hot spots.
- They support behavior change for people at risk for violence and connect them with jobs, housing, mental health and chemical dependency services, and other resources to support them toward a positive path.
- They work to change community norms, mobilizing entire communities to reject violence and healing communities through activities like awareness building, community gatherings and peace walks.
- The initiative analyzes data to ensure proper implementation and identify changes in violence.
- The initiative provides training and technical assistance covering the necessary skills to implement the model correctly.
Is it effective?
This is a new initiative, and what's happening right now is a pilot. While we don't expect data on effectiveness until next year, similar strategies like the evidence-based Cure Violence model have shown real-time impacts. Having active teams trained in de-escalation, conflict resolution and verbal judo on the streets in high violence areas six days a week has led to improved safety in cities throughout the world. In studies of the Cure Violence model, New York City has seen a 63% reduction in shooting victims, and Baltimore's recent results show a 56% reduction in homicides.
Visit the City website for more information about the City of Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention.
Funding and capacity building
We work with community—young people, residents, neighborhood groups, community organizations, and more—toward the shared goal of a violence-free community. To do that, we provide funds and capacity building through the Blueprint Approved Capacity Building Institute and the Violence Prevention Fund.
Blueprint Approved Institute (BPAI)
Through BPAI, we support grassroots community organizations doing violence prevention work. We work with them to build skills and increase their organizational capacity. Our office also provides funding for them to put their capacity building into practice. They use those funds for summer youth violence prevention programming. In that, they're supported with hands-on guidance from us and a cohort of peers. This capacity building enhances agencies' services and increases their ability to secure other funds.
Violence Prevention Fund
The Violence Prevention Fund invests in community-led strategies to address violence. The community-led work uses a variety of approaches, including:
- community building.
- arts events.
- youth skills training.
- youth empowerment.
- leadership development.
- street outreach.
- trauma awareness and resilience training.
- race/restorative justice conversations.
- community meals.
- resource referrals.
In 2019, the Office of Violence Prevention invested $325,000 in 10 agencies. The recipients:
- carried out over 100 events.
- engaged over 7,400 people in programming.
- served over 5,700 meals.
- provided stipends and meaningful skills training to 44 young people.
- had 1,600 outreach contacts/connections to resources.
- reported over 160 partnerships in action across the City.
We've funded these agencies through the Violence Prevention Fund in 2019 and 2020:
- A Mother's Love
- The Camden Promise
- Hennepin Theatre Trust
- Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute
- Art is My Weapon
- Green Minneapolis
- Banyan Community
- Lake Street Council
- St. Stephen's
- The Man Up Club
- Guns Down Love Up
- Domestic Abuse Project
- Lao Center of Minnesota
- Pillsbury United Communities
- Growing North Minneapolis
- We Rise, The Ostara Initiative