What is a CVI Ecosystem?
The U.S. faces persistent disparities related to community violence, despite overall declines in recent decades. High homicide rates are concentrated in urban areas and particularly within racially segregated, economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. These neighborhoods contain just 1.5 percent of the country’s population but experience 26 percent of all gun homicide, a condition that perpetuates cycles of trauma, economic distress, and other harms.
Community violence disproportionately affects young men of color. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young Black men and the second leading cause of death for young Latino men. In 2020, Black men aged 15 to 34 accounted for 38 percent of all gun homicide victims while representing only 2 percent of the population. Those involved in gangs and other groups face an even greater risk of being harmed or harming others.
Nonfatal violent injuries are over 100 times more frequent than homicide, and repeat victimization is common. Victims of violence face not only physical injuries but psychological and emotional disturbances associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use disorder. Beyond these physical, psychological, and emotional impacts, community violence is costly: Gun violence accounts for $280 billion in annual costs to taxpayers, survivors, families, employers, and communities. The average cost of medical care for a nonfatal violent injury that requires hospitalization is approximately $29,200.
CVI addresses this problem by focusing resources on the high-risk population. It brings together innovative, evidence-based, community-led strategies—such as street outreach, hospital-based violence intervention, the Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, peace fellowships, and crisis management systems—that reduce violence, improve public safety, and provide a continuum of support to underserved people. CVI strategies employ front-line workers known as “credible messengers.” These workers, who sometimes come from the same communities as the high-risk population and may have a history of justice involvement, are uniquely able to mediate conflicts, prevent shootings, deliver connections to services, and promote nonviolent norms. During our moment of national reckoning on over-policing and mass incarceration, CVI represents an opportunity to invest in community-led work that promotes peace and addresses trauma while complementing the work of police in the communities that suffer from the highest rates of criminal justice contact.
A CVI ecosystem, driven by city leadership, connects a city’s violence prevention infrastructure—including community-based organizations, offices of neighborhood safety, and public health departments that too often work separately—in order to implement a comprehensive slate of strategies that address violence dynamics. The goal is to provide adequate funding and coordination, with a shared vision of public safety, to maximize the response to high-risk people and make violence reduction sustainable.
Our leadership team has national experience in assisting the planning and implementation of CVI ecosystems in cities across the country.