Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $926,299)
Project Ujima, a program of Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin (Children’s Wisconsin), began as one of the first Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs in the nation with the goal of stopping the cycle of violence by offering a complete continuum of hospital and community-based services. Project Ujima provides a trauma-informed, holistic wraparound approach to crime victim services, providing support to all members of the household. The program is a unique model of violence intervention strategies that works toward empowerment, building on familial strengths, community assets and those of multiple community agencies to address the physical, mental, and emotional needs of individuals exposed to interpersonal and community violence. Through Project Ujima: Breaking the Cycle of Violence, the goal is to provide supportive services for youth and families exposed to community or interpersonal violence as early as possible in an effort to improve psychosocial functioning and prevent victimization and delinquency by modeling positive relationships and conflict resolution tactics and building upon community by way of collective responsibility. Similar to basic needs, youth and adults alike need strong and meaningful relationships to survive. Project Ujima will build on these relationships using restorative practices — an emerging social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals and social connections within communities. Children’s Wisconsin has established partnerships with stakeholders from many sectors of the Milwaukee community. This project will build on these existing partnerships and establish new collaborations to increase awareness about Project Ujima, the benefits surrounding preventative programming focusing on the restorative practice model and building additional trust, rapport and positive relationships via the strategic approach to support and empower youth victims of violence, their families and communities. Specific project aims include: Expand reach and scope of Project Ujima services to emphasize evidence-based violence prevention practices. Enhance co-management of youth care with Children’s Community Health programs and relevant community and clinical partners. Deliver restorative justice programming with youth, schools and community organizations, utilizing a train-the-trainer model. Facilitate educational events and workshops for parents, schools, youth and community groups focused around trauma and youth exposure to violence. Provide supportive intervention services to at-risk, underserved youth and their siblings/ family members. Expand program reach through community partnerships and collaborative opportunities.