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Oakland, CA, September 23, 2011: The Senate Appropriations 2012 Budget, approved Wednesday, zeroed out $19.7 million in funding for the CDC's Youth Violence Prevention activities, causing surprise and worry amongst advocates across the country. Prevention Institute, one of the nation's leaders in the development and implementation of innovative youth violence initiatives, is calling for the Senate to reinstate the funding immediately, saying the funding cuts are simply unacceptable.
"This cut will have a devastating impact on efforts to prevent violence across the country and compromise decades of work," explained Harvard School of Public Health's Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, co-chair of Prevention Institute's CDC-funded Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) initiative. "Without funding and support, violence prevention interventions will default back to an emphasis on arrest and imprisonment. Our young people need opportunities, not arrests."
The federal funding supports Prevention Institute in working with cities across the country, including Boston, Newark, Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, New Orleans, St Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, Denver, Tucson, San Diego, Oakland, Richmond (CA) and Seattle, to prevent violence through the UNITY initiative.
Instead of simply ‘treating' violence one arrest at a time, UNITY's CDC-supported public health approach hones in on what causes violence: it engages youth to create new opportunities for participation, leadership and economic opportunity, and dismantles barriers to peaceful streets and connected neighbors. Eliminating this funding takes public health expertise off the table and leaves solutions solely in the hands of criminal justice.
"Though the Appropriations recommendations support important priorities, such as job skills, Promise Neighborhoods and community transformation programs," says Prevention Institute's Rachel Davis, "none of these can be fully actualized if our young people are not safe. Without this funding in place, cities will be limited in their ability to bring the peace, connection and community that all of our young people deserve."
Prevention Institute put out a call yesterday, asking supporters to urge the Senate to reinstate the funding immediately. Advocates, communities, parents and organizations sent over 1000 emails to senators in the first 24 hours.
UNITY is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number. 5 US4 CE924970-04 to Prevention Institute from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.
UNITY is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). Created in 1992 as an independent, private foundation, TCWF's mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.