PHILADELPHIA – The City’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) today released a review of community-based programs that potentially have an impact on community violence, and offered recommendations on how the City can further enhance its investment in programs to prevent and reduce violence.

Specifically, OVP took an inventory of the community-based violence prevention programs the City funded in fiscal year 2017 (FY17) and examined whether programs served individuals most at risk of violence, particularly gun violence.  OVP identified approximately 40 programs and organizations that represented nearly $13.3 million in funding the City invested in violence prevention in FY17.

“In a city of limited resources, beset by pervasive violence, it is absolutely crucial that we understand where the dollars devoted to violence prevention are going,” said Mayor Kenney. “This review is a start to developing that understanding, and — just as importantly — brings recommendations on improving the effectiveness and efficiency on how we invest in violence prevention programs in the future.”

The review of City-funded programs is a precursor to the plan being developed by the Kenney Administration on how to dramatically reduce the killings and shootings in Philadelphia.  That plan is to be released early in 2019.

“In September, the Mayor issued a call to action to his leadership team to develop a comprehensive plan that, focuses on violence as a public health crisis,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.  “As we prepare that plan, this review of city funded violence prevention efforts will illuminate some of the potential paths to progress on this difficult issue.”

The OVP review of city-funded programs makes three critical findings:

  • The City needs to invest in more community-based violence prevention programs that serve individuals at the highest risk of violence.  Most of the programs provide services that address some of the risk factors that increase the likelihood a person may become violent, but very few programs appear to actively engage the people, particularly the young adults, who are most likely driving the violence in their communities.
  • The City needs to improve the coordination among the various City departments, agencies and organizations responsible for managing community-based violence prevention programs.  The lack of coordination among programs makes it difficult to ensure clients receive needed assistance from other service providers and help with navigating systems, such as the criminal justice and social services systems.  This lack of coordination also limits the City’s ability to maximize the collective impact of its investment in violence prevention.
  • The City needs to develop a clear violence prevention strategy and a common set of metrics to better inform the City’s investments in violence prevention.  While each City agency and individual contract for services includes a set of requirements or deliverables, the lack of a common set of metrics across all violence prevention and reduction investments makes it difficult to determine, measure and compare success among programs that serve similar populations or operate in the same locations.

“As we look to invest in more community-based violence prevention programs, it’s incredibly important that we address the needs of those most impacted by violence,” said Theron Pride, Senior Director of Violence Prevention Strategies and Programs. “This review sheds light on how the City can invest smarter in programs to meet those needs.”

The full review of Community-Based Violence Prevention Programs Funded in Fiscal Year 2017 is available here.