Partnerships To Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence

Purpose: To increase the effectiveness of existing youth gun violence reduction strategies by enhancing and coordinating prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies and strength-ening linkages between community residents, law enforcement, and the juvenile justice system.

Background: Juvenile gun violence in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. During the period 1976 to 1991, firearms were used by 65 percent of juvenile homicide offenders. Four times as many juveniles were killed with a gun in 1994 than in 1984. Homicides involving firearms have been the leading cause of death for black males ages 15 to 19 since 1969, and the rates more than doubled in the decade from 1979 (40 deaths per 100,000) to 1989 (85 deaths per 100,000). Teenage males in all racial and ethnic groups are more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from all natural causes combined.

The increased availability of and access to guns by juveniles has had devastating consequences in schools and communities. In many schools, learning may no longer be the top priority-- survival concerns lead many students to avoid school entirely or carry weapons for protection. Fights that once involved fists often become deadly exchanges with firearms. Educators must now divert attention from academics to monitor and control student aggression. In neigh-borhoods, people are apprehensive about going outside their homes.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is funding a number of law enforcement-based gun violence reduction programs and community-based initiatives to address youth violence. In the summer of 1995, as part of its outreach and planning process, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) convened a focus group on the subject of "kids and guns." Participants in the focus group represented a broad cross section of disciplines from law enforcement, research, youth advocacy, and community-based programs. Although recog-nizing current DOJ efforts, this group identified a need to complement these activities with direct support to grassroots neighborhood initiatives. They believed that community-led antiviolence efforts and engagement in youth gun violence programming are critical to the sustained success of broader initiatives such as public information campaigns, community-based violence prevention, and gun and drug suppression and interdiction strategies.

This program is based on a review of research and programs conducted by OJJDP. The review is summarized in Reducing Youth Gun Violence: An Overview of Programs and Initiatives, which also includes a directory of programs and national organizations working to get guns out of the hands of children.

Reducing Youth Gun Violence identifies three key factors that define the problem: (1) juveniles' access to guns, (2) the reasons young people carry guns, and (3) the reasons they choose to use guns to resolve conflict. Many efforts to reduce gun violence focus on youth access to guns. These gun suppression efforts tend to be coordinated by law enforcement and take a "market disruption" approach such as that used to fight street drug markets. Police have successfully reduced illegal gun trafficking in communities by developing special gun units, encouraging community residents to report illegal gun trade, and targeting for prosecution illegal gun possession cases. Community support and youth involvement in planning and implementation are critical to the effectiveness of these operations. However, a comprehensive approach to youth gun violence reduction must also take a broader perspective that addresses the risk factors for youth gun violence through prevention and intervention activities.

While research in this area is still evolving, the literature does indicate certain factors that put youth at greater risk of obtaining access to a gun, carrying a gun, or using a gun. These risk factors include drug use and drug dealing, participation in gang activity or presence of gang activity in the community, community disorganization and the cycle of fear it can generate, low self-esteem, lack of economic and other developmental opportunities, cultural values that associate manhood with violence, and a lack of faith in law enforcement and other authorities to effectively address violent conflict.

Research indicates that effective youth gun violence reduction programs should use a community assessment of the local youth gun violence problem (risk factors) to guide program development and that program implementation should use multiple strategies including prevention, intervention, and suppression.

Goal: To reduce juveniles' illegal access to guns and address the reasons they carry and use guns in violent exchanges.

Objectives: Sites should seek to accomplish the following in the target areas:

  1. Reduce illegal gun availability to juveniles.

  2. Reduce the incidence of juveniles' illegally carrying guns.

  3. Reduce juvenile gun-related crimes.

  4. Increase youth awareness of the personal and legal consequences of gun violence.

  5. Increase participation of community residents and organizations in public safety efforts.

  6. Improve community residents' attitude toward law enforcement and alleviate their concerns about safety.

  7. Increase and coordinate services and resources for at-risk juveniles, especially juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system.

Program Strategy: A recent review of existing youth gun violence reduction programs by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (publication pending) shows that current pro-grams have taken a variety of approaches to the youth gun problem. Some are court based and involve diversion or family education; some are hospital based and link school lessons, the shock of emergency room experiences, and mentoring; some are school based and focus on enhancing school safety through school resource officers, conflict resolution curriculums, safe corridors, and afterschool programming; and some are community or public housing based, combining targeted suppression in high crime spots with public education campaigns. While these programs have shown success in reducing gun violence, OJJDP hypothesizes that programs that focus on prevention, intervention, and suppression approaches to reduce risk factors and that seek to protect juveniles from gun violence are likely to yield more dramatic and sustained results. Applicants must incorporate at least four of the following seven strategies, and one of those four must be a gun suppression strategy. The strategy of this program will be to enhance, coordinate, and focus the following strategies in the target area:

Applicants for this program are asked to do the following:

Research and Target

Collaborate and Organize

Communicate and Follow Up


  • Demonstrate a capacity for data collection, collaborate with participating agencies to evaluate program effectiveness, build upon and communicate successes, and involve young people in surveying the community and evaluating the initiative.

  • Explain how the project will assess the process of program implementation and determine the effectiveness of the project. Successful applicants will be required to prepare informational material describing their program and highlighting its achievements.

    Grantees will be expected to cooperate with OJJDP's national evaluator in collecting process evaluation data and generating process evaluation reports. Examples of the types of information to be collected include, but are not limited to, descriptions of the following:

    Each funded site will be expected to acquire the capability to use the Internet to communicate with other sites, other grantees, and OJJDP.

    This initiative targets communities that are seeking to enhance existing gun reduction strategies.

    Products: Products may include a training and technical assistance needs assessment, a first-year progress report and plan for case management implementation, and a local process evaluation.

    Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be community-based organizations applying jointly with either a State or local law enforcement agency. A demonstrated formal relationship between the community-based organization(s) and a State or local law enforcement agency in carrying out the proposed project will be required. Law enforcement agencies may include a district attorney's office, sheriff's office, State or local police department, or public housing authority law enforcement unit. A communitywide planning/implementation team representing diverse individuals and organizations must be proposed or in place to support the project and facilitate the community's overall strategy to address the youth/gun issue. Any State or local agency may also apply if it can demonstrate the formal relationship with both a community organization(s) and either a State or local law enforcement agency, and that it is applying with both those entities as co-applicants. Applicants must also:

    Selection Criteria: All applicants will be evaluated and rated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria.

    Problem(s) To Be Addressed (20 points)

    The applicant must demonstrate that the target area(s) has a high level of gun violence or a recent, documented substantial increase in juvenile gun violence. The applicant must also describe the extent to which the problem of drugs and gangs are involved in gun-related violence. The applicant must demonstrate that it has conducted a community assessment of the local youth gun violence problem (youth access to, possession of, and use of guns) and describe the resources available for addressing it. The findings in the assessment should support the discussion of the local problem in this section and support the interventions described under Project Design.

    The applicant must describe the status of planning and implementation efforts to date and demonstrate the engagement of appropriate stakeholders in the planning process. These include the juvenile justice system, the social service system, and the private sector.

    Goals and Objectives (10 points)

    Goals and objectives for the first year of project activity must be clearly defined, quantifiable, measurable, and attainable. The applicant should describe goals and objectives in the second and third years to the extent that they have been identified.

    Applicants must be specific about the tasks that can be accomplished in the first year given available resources. Applicants must list and explain in detail the activities and the products, if any, that will be produced in the first year and provide an overview of projected tasks to be accomplished and products to be developed for years two and three.

    The applicant must describe program activities that engage the community, parents, law enforcement, courts, and corrections. The applicant's objectives must be comprehensive, addressing the multiple issues that exacerbate youth gun violence.

    Project Design (35 Points)

    The project design should clearly support project goals and objectives and reflect the required program strategy. Other resources that complement and support this project should be incor-porated into the design of the project. Applicants will be judged in this category based on their choice of measurable outcomes and demonstration of the ability to measure and achieve those outcomes. Preference will be given to applicants who form partnerships with existing Federal programs such as COPS Youth Handgun or COPS Gang Initiative; the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Comprehensive Gang Initiative; PACT; Weed and Seed; OJJDP's SafeFutures and Comprehensive Community-Wide Approach to Gangs; Comprehensive Communities; the U.S. Attorney Anti-Violent Crime Initiative; Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities; the Department of Education's Safe and Drug Free Schools program; the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Hope VI and Drug Elimination programs; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' High Intensity Drug Trafficking Initiative.

    Management and Organizational Capability (30 Points)

    Applicants should list project personnel who will be working on this project and their qualifications to carry out this project successfully. Applicants should be clear on the roles and responsibilities of all those who will support the program. The linkage between the State or local law enforcement agency and community-based organizations, other public and private partnerships, and resources committed to the effort should be discussed. In the case of partnerships or contractual relationships, the lead management and support responsibilities should be clearly defined.

    Applicants must demonstrate that they have an organizational infrastructure capable of carrying out the goals, objectives, and tasks they have identified. Applicants must also demonstrate that they have experience in programs designed to serve a juvenile population, community organizing skills, and a capacity for data collection and analysis. Specifically, applicants shall do the following:

    1. Name and describe the capabilities and experience of all staff who will play lead roles in managing the overall program or its key components. Position descriptions and resumes should be included as appendixes.

    2. Indicate the amount of time to be devoted to the program by the grant manager and all staff.

    3. Provide examples of the community-based organization's previous work in juvenile justice, youth services, and implementation of communitywide planning strategies and programs.

    Budget (5 Points)

    The applicant must provide a proposed budget that is detailed, reasonable, complete, and cost effective for the proposed activities. All activities should be directly related to the goals and objectives of the project. Each applicant must:

    1. Allocate at a minimum $5,000 for travel to cluster group meetings at central locations to be designated by OJJDP.

    2. Describe capacity to leverage State, local, and private resources (including staff and funds).

    Format: The narrative must not exceed 35 pages in length (excluding forms, assurances, and appendixes) and must be submitted on 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper, double spaced on one side of the paper in a standard 10-or 12-point font.

    Appendixes shall be limited to the following three items:

    Appendix A:
    Listing of individuals, their affiliations, signatures, and contact information for the persons participating in the development of this proposal.

    Appendix B:
    Legislation, executive orders, memorandums of understanding, and other formal commitments of bona fide partnerships (e.g., collapsed funding streams, wrap-around services, multiservice centers, and procedures for service coordination). Documentation should be provided.

    Appendix C:
    Staff resumes and position descriptions.

    Award Period: This project will be funded for 36 months in three 12-month budget periods. Funding after the first budget period depends on grantee performance, availability of funds, and other criteria established at the time of award.

    Award Amount: Up to $800,000 is available for this program. First-year funding will be up to $200,000 per site. A maximum of five sites will be selected.

    Delivery Instructions: All application packages should be mailed or delivered to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, c/o Juvenile Justice Resource Center, 1600 Research Boulevard, Mail Stop 2K, Rockville, MD 20850; 301 251 5535. Note: In the lower left-hand corner of the envelope, you must clearly write "Partnerships To Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence."

    Due Date: Applicants are responsible for ensuring that the original and five copies of the application package are delivered no later than 5 p.m. EDT on August 21, 1996.

    Contact: For further information call Frank Smith, Program Manager, Special Emphasis Division, 202-616-3656, or send an e-mail inquiry to


    Guide for Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile
         Offenders. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
         June 1995.
    Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1996 Update on Violence. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile
         Justice and Delinquency Prevention, February 1996.
    Reducing Youth Gun Violence: An Overview of Programs and Initiatives. Washington, DC:
         Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, May 1996.

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