UNITY builds support for effective, sustainable efforts to prevent violence before it occurs, so that communities can thrive.
UNITY utilizes a public health, or prevention, approach to violence. Prevention is a viable and critical component of a balanced approach that also includes intervention and enforcement/suppression. Quality prevention incorporates data collection and analysis to pinpoint the populations and locations at greatest risk, identify risk and resilience factors, and develop and utilize effective strategies to prevent violence before it occurs, and to reduce the impact of risk factors and the reoccurrence of violence. This approach engages multiple sectors working in coordination with one another and with community members. Our efforts are two-fold: We support cities in developing, implementing and evaluating effective and sustainable prevention efforts, and we increase awareness of what is needed to prevent violence in the first place--building momentum for such approaches so that communities can have peaceful streets and thriving residents.
Read Shifting the Paradigm: UNITY's Impact on the Practice of Prevention, an overview and discussion of major findings from the eight-year UNITY evaluation.
- Coordinate the UNITY City Network: A growing number of cities and some counties have joined our peer network. Committed to preventing violence before it occurs, they share successes, learn from one another, and inform our tools and strategies. UNITY provides training and technical assistance (TA), and highlights local successes through publications, conferences and web materials. UNITY is engaged in a number of areas important to network sites, such as addressing and preventing community trauma; the role of public health in supporting law enforcement and community relationships; engaging multiple sectors in effective prevention, including the business sector; and community-centered health systems taking action to prevent violence.
Connect violence prevention with other fields and create new communities of practice: With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Prevention Institute and the UNITY Network are partnering with the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and their Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network for Communities (EC LINC). By connecting violence prevention with the field of early childhood development, the Cradle to Community: A focus on community safety project works to strengthen communities and make them safer, in support of improved outcomes for vulnerable children and families.
Guide effective and sustainable practice: UNITY develops tools, provides training and TA, and features national experts and model practices to enhance prevention efforts. The UNITY RoadMap, for example, provides a framework for engaged communities to collaborate with high-level local leaders and multiple city government sectors to design effective prevention strategies grounded in research and practitioner wisdom. The Guidebook to Strategy Evaluation offers guidance on how to ensure that progress is on track. Our website provides free access to all of our tools and materials.
- Make the case: UNITY provides information that builds the case for including prevention in local efforts to address violence. Through developing case studies about effective approaches, highlighting the costs and benefits, and providing language for use with the media, UNITY has helped community leaders justify prevention approaches. Our commissioned paper Moving from Them to Us: Challenges in Reframing Violence Among Youth provides specific recommendations to overcome challenges associated with building political and social will for preventing violence.
- Educate decision-makers and inform national strategies: We provide information about what works in prevention and what will work for cities. For example, in partnership with the UNITY City Network, we developed the The UNITY Urban Agenda for Preventing Violence Before It Occurs: Bringing a Multi-Sector Approach to Scale in U.S. Cities, which describes what cities need to prevent violence and sustain their successes.