Report Roundup: Violence Prevention Initiative: Findings from an Evaluation of the First Five Years

John Kelly, Andrew D. Beadle and Caroline Borolla
October 1, 2001

This candid assessment of The California Wellness Foundation’s (TCWF) $60 million initiative, which has spent $35 million over the first half of a 10-year plan, reveals modest but promising results from efforts to prevent youth violence. The initiative was launched in 1992, when California’s youth violence rates were soaring and “tough love” legislation was in vogue. TCWF provided grants to organizations that attacked the issue on three fronts: raising local awareness, training leaders and reaching policy-makers.

While TCWF acknowledges the strong correlation between the overall drop in youth violence and the state’s booming economy, it notes the larger drop in the five cities where their Community Action Programs (CAPs) were implemented. These groups received an average of $175,000 per year and were encouraged to tailor programs to their communities that focused on such concepts as direct service, community mobilization, and policy and media advocacy. Although increased awareness of these programs and their message did not help boost direct participation in CAP events – the overall adult level was 7 percent, and 11 for parents of adolescents – the RAND evaluators say their effect may have been felt indirectly. Over the intervention period, the number of people who felt that keeping a gun in the home makes people more safe decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent.

TCWF developed an academic fellowship program, giving six institutions $50,000 per year to train health workers “committed to violence prevention,” as well as a community leader fellowship that has provided similar grants to 40 community leaders who usually created new programs with the money. While the foundation did not cite a direct correlation, it reported being satisfied with the work of the Pacific Center (a California policy group funded under the initiative) in its effort to shift the public perspective of youth violence from law enforcement to public health. 41 pages. RAND. $10. 1700 Main St., P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407. (310) 451-7002.

Kelly, John, Andrew D. Beadle, and Caroline Borolla. "Violence Prevention Initiative: Findings from an Evaluation of the First Five Years." Report Roundup. Youth Today, October 2001, p. 12-14.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.