What Cities Can Do

Every 24 hours in America, 13 young people under the age of 25 are victims of homicide.  Mayors have the power and the responsibility to help end this senseless loss of life. Learn about 15 steps we can take now to stop the violence.

1. Build political will to change

Develop sustainable solutions led by local government in partnership with community leadership to achieve broad results. This requires committed leadership from mayors, police chiefs, superintendents of public schools, faith leaders, local heads of health and human services organizations, elected officials in high-crime neighborhoods and community leaders. This effort must transcend local election cycles and strengthen over time through enduring collaboration.

2. Convene a local leadership team

Organize a cross-sector anti-violence and community stabilization leadership group in every city to facilitate collaboration within government, and between government and the community.

3. Connect city leaders in a national network

Conduct monthly webinars, leadership training and regular meetings designed to help mayors learn from their peers. Discover what works in other cities to help modify and implement strategies.

4. Engage African American men and boys from the most affected neighborhoods in community conversations to develop sustainable solutions

Create a welcoming and accessible setting that invites residents and young men involved in violence to be partners in developing solutions. Begin a dialogue on how to encourage participation, identify common ground and save lives.

5. Create broad, citywide work groups

Complement the work of leadership groups by inviting committed individuals to join citywide work groups that strive to reduce violence by improving community, youth and family outcomes.

6. Be systematic about targeting resources where they are most needed
Use data to identify the key neighborhoods affected by violence. Systematically targeting resources will allow city leaders to concentrate efforts to maximize effectiveness. One strong resource is the Institute for Black Male Achievement’s Data Dashboard, www.blackmaleachievement.org.
7. Construct and implement a data-driven, multi-year plan of action

Develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive action plan in collaboration with the local leadership team to measure specific outcomes for African American men and boys. Build in the flexibility to modify efforts as outcomes and circumstances warrant.

8. Develop an integrated response strategy

Collaborate across agencies and systems to ensure a more effective and coordinated method of reducing violence and violent deaths that transcends the often sharp lines that divide education, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and workforce development systems administered by city, county and state governments.

9. Ensure a quality education for every child

Focus on improving educational outcomes for youth as a core solution to reducing violence. Recruit mentors to help African American men and boys stay on track in school, advocate for in-school alternatives to suspension and expulsion, reduce chronic absence and truancy, and develop alternative pathways to high-school completion.

10. Incorporate workforce readiness into all strategies

Ensure that African American men and boys have access to entry-level jobs and post-secondary education or vocational training that leads to well-paying jobs in their city. City leaders can also help young African American young men and boys gain valuable work experience through summer and year-round job and career exploration programs.

11. Provide community-wide mental health services

Ensure that everyone has access to culturally appropriate mental health services that promote healing and empowerment through approaches such as trauma-informed care.

12. Engage and support parents and families

Provide ongoing support to mothers, fathers and other family members in their efforts to raise healthy, well-functioning children.

13. Strengthen the skills needed to stop the cycle of violence

Replicate promising models that can break the cycle of violence by focusing on high-risk individuals and neighborhoods. Address violent retaliation through programs such as CeaseFire, Cure Violence’s Violence Interrupters or Omega Boys Club’s Street Soldiers.

14. Support juvenile- and criminal-justice reforms

Promote and develop positive policies and programs for youth who are at risk of becoming or already are involved in the juvenile-justice system.

15. Keep the lights on

Hold public events frequently and at all hours of the day and night in the city’s most violence-prone neighborhoods.

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