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Center will combine rigorous research with practical know-how to produce effective community violence solutions, thanks to generous support from Arnold Ventures

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland announces today the establishment of the Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction, the latest in the university’s ongoing efforts to support The 120 Initiative, designed to provide actionable solutions addressing the United States’ gun violence crisis.

The Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction — also known as the Violence Reduction Center” or VRC” for short — will gather the most rigorous research on community-based violence, synthesize it, then make it available free of charge to the general public and federal, state, and local leaders. The latter will especially benefit from the center’s practical instructions on how to choose, apply, and align the right combination of anti-violence strategies for their particular jurisdiction.

When the university co-launched The 120 Initiative earlier this year, we knew without question our faculty would answer the call to provide bold, creative and research-based ideas to curb gun violence — and violence, in general — in our country,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. I am proud that this center dedicated to preserving lives and ending violence will have a home here at the University of Maryland.”

The VRC was made possible by generous support from Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. 

With our support for the Violence Reduction Center, Arnold Ventures aims to help policymakers, law enforcement, and community organizations identify the most effective interventions to reduce violence,” said Walter Katz, Arnold Ventures vice president of criminal justice. People in every community in the United States should feel safe in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods, and only by enacting what works can we hope to build this safer future for everyone.”

The VRC will be housed within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJS), and led by the department’s newest faculty member, Thomas Abt. 

We are pleased to welcome Thomas Abt to the University of Maryland Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, and excited about the contributions that Thomas and the Center will make to public discourse and policy on community violence,” said Robert Brame, CCJS Professor and Chair. Thomas’ book, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Street,’ offers a powerful scholarly yet accessible assessment of violence in America’s cities. With support from Arnold Ventures and the University of Maryland, Thomas will build on this foundation with the Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction.”

Abt, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice and chair of its Violent Crime Working Group, previously served as deputy secretary for public safety to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, and as the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs’ chief of staff. In New York, he led the development of New York’s Gun-Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative, which employs evidence-based, data-driven approaches to reduce gun violence, and while in Washington played a lead role in establishing the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a network of federal agencies and local communities that worked together to reduce youth and gang violence. 

To put it plainly, the mission of the VRC is to save lives by stopping violence. By combining rigorous research with real-world know-how, we can help policymakers make the right choices in this critical public policy area,” said Abt. I’m grateful to both the University and Arnold Ventures for providing this important opportunity.”

Through the VRC, Abt will be collaborating closely with many UMD colleagues, including CCJS Professors Rod Brunson and Bianca Bersani, as well as Joseph Richardson, MPower and Joel and Kim Feller Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology. 

To learn more about the VRC, visit https://​go​.umd​.edu/vrc.

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the Nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 56 members of the national academies. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www​.umd​.edu.

About Arnold Ventures

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. Driven by a mission to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice, it invests in sustainable change, building it from the ground up based on research, deep thinking, and a strong foundation of evidence. Arnold Ventures is headquartered in Houston, with offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City. For more information about Arnold Ventures, visit www​.arnold​ven​tures​.org.

Media Contacts:

Rachael Grahame
Assistant Director, Communications and Media Relations
College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University of Maryland

David Hebert
Communications Manager
Arnold Ventures