Stopping Violence Before It Starts: Mathematica Evaluates Oakland's Citywide Violence Prevention Initiative

Apr 03, 2017

Oakland Unite 

Stopping violence before it starts demands community solutions. Mathematica Policy Research is evaluating Oakland Unite, a publicly funded, community-based violence prevention initiative in Oakland, California. Using collaborative strategies such as street outreach and life coaching, Oakland Unite targets community members at the highest risk of violence to interrupt and prevent the cycle of violence in the city. The program is a comprehensive effort that weaves together social services, nonprofit organizations, police, employment, schools, criminal justice, faith-based agencies, and community members at the neighborhood level to address the multiple risk factors associated with violence.

Mathematica's study includes (1) annual evaluations of the 25 programs funded through Oakland Unite; (2) annual evaluations of Oakland Unite strategies (intensive case management, education and economic self-sufficiency, and violent incident and crisis response); and (3) a four-year comprehensive evaluation of the impact of program participation on individual criminal justice, education, and employment outcomes.

The innovative study employs network and cluster analyses to parse program data, identify whether clients access services from multiple programs, measure variation in service dosage, and assess whether services target those at highest risk. Mathematica is collecting data from program site visits; participant surveys and interviews; and focus groups with participants, families, police, and parole officers. We are also creating an individual-level database of administrative records from multiple sources, including Oakland Unite, the Oakland Police Department, and the Oakland Unified School District.

“Cities and their communities play an important role in preventing violence by uniting to offer those at highest risk a safer future,” said Kevin Conway, Mathematica’s director for justice research and analytics. “We are proud to partner with the City of Oakland to study this important local initiative.” 

Read more about Oakland Unite.

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