Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $999,998)
The City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) aims to strengthen the function of violence interrupters within its School Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Program to reduce violence at high schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the surrounding communities that involve high school students. The School VIP Program, which was first implemented during the 2022-2023 School Year, placed three individuals – one violence interrupter, one gender-based violence (GBV) specialist, and one life coach (school VIP team) – in seven high schools in OUSD. Grant funding will be used to hire three additional violence interrupters so each school has its own violence interrupter. By being present at schools full-time, the seven violence interrupters will have expanded capacity to deliver the core violence interruption services of conflict mediation and service referrals for students impacted by violence. Violence interrupters will also have expanded bandwidth to implement the following new activities at their school sites: (1) education and support groups for students who are involved in or at high risk for group violence; (2) training for school staff on signs and symptoms of youth violence and the process for referring impacted students to the school VIP team; (3) outreach to families of high-risk students to engage family members in efforts to reduce student risk factors; and (4) educational and support groups for caregivers of high-risk students. The seven schools were selected out of 14 total high schools to receive the School VIP Program due to their high numbers of suspensions for violence and percentages of students who are chronically absent, as well as the location of these schools in neighborhoods that are repeatedly impacted by shootings with injury. Less than 5% of the student body at each school identifies as White, which means that reductions in violence resulting from grant activities will primarily benefit students of color, particularly Black and Latinx students. The three new violence interrupters will be hired and supervised by two community-based partner organizations – Youth ALIVE! and Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice. The DVP currently funds both agencies to supervise several existing violence interrupters and life coaches through the School VIP Program, as well as community-based violence interrupters funded through the DVP.