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Duffy's Hope, Inc. Project PreVENT (Preventing Violence by Engaging Network of Teachers)

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,000,000)

The city of Wilmington is the largest in the State and was named the most violent small city in the United States, with a homicide rate 4.5 times the national average.[1] It is a majority-minority city, with over 55% of its racial/ethnic composition being Black or African American. Approximately 20,000 of the city’s population are children and youth, with 86% receiving some form of public assistance from the state. Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in school violence, in particular middle and high schools in Wilmington as continuously reported on local news. Incidences of violence in Wilmington communities have been on the rise over the last few years. The Center for Disease Control was called upon to create recommendations for the issues of gun violence in Wilmington as a public health issue.[2] The Wilmington Community Advisory Council (WCAC) was created to address the specific problem of youth gun violence.  The 2018 crime rate in Wilmington was 1,544.47, significantly higher than the state’s rate of 423.61.[3] Crime and poverty are further compounded by substance abuse and trauma. The city has 27% of its residents living in poverty though Delaware’s overall poverty rate is 12.1%, which indicates that Wilmington has double the percentage of residents living below the poverty line comparative to the rest of the state.[4]

In 2021, Wilmington saw 120 incidences of gun violence which resulted in 152 victims, 39 of which were killed.[5] Across the state, there were 232 incidents of gun violence with 81 victims killed which indicates that approximately half of the state’s deaths related to gun violence were found in the city of Wilmington alone. With a population of just under 71,000, the city has a gun fatality rate on 1 for every 1,820 residents, placing Wilmington among other large U.S cities for per capita gun crimes. 

The problem of violence is situational; young people in the target communities are living in trauma every day being exposed to high levels of crime and violence in their homes and communities which, as has been established, then overpours into the classrooms and school campuses.  CDC reports that “in the city's toughest neighborhoods, 60% of children have experienced trauma — a rate nearly three times that of children living in the rest of Delaware[6].” Youth violence has been found to lead to “increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide[7]” Alternatively,  a study commissioned by the Office of Justice found that individual-level predictors of violence includes prior violence, and mental health problems.[8] School violence is linked to the lack of evidence-based violence prevention education, substance use prevention education and mental health resources available to students and teachers to address the issues of crime, poverty, and substance abuse prevalent in their homes and communities.


The problem of violence in Wilmington middle and high is the lack of mental health resources available to students and teachers to address the issues of crime, poverty, and substance abuse prevalent in their homes and communities.   


Under Project PreVENT (Preventing Violence by Engaging Network of Teachers), Duffy’s Hope, Inc. (DHI) will improve school security by providing students and teachers with the tools they need to recognize, respond quickly to, and help prevent acts of violence. Due to the nature and scope of the issue of school violence in Wilmington, DHI’s program design will take on a multifaceted approach with the aim of (i) equipping teachers and parents with the knowledge and tools needed to identify and respond to potential risks, including risks posed as a result of a student’s mental health crisis, (ii) educating students on how to prevent violence against themselves and others, and (iii) providing adequate support to students to help them manage and heal from the challenges they face at home and in their communities. As part of this design, DHI will employ evidence-based and innovative programming to teach students violence prevention strategies in four Title I middle  and high schools located in high-crime, high-poverty communities. This strategy will include gamification principles to reinforce positive behaviors in students.


DHI is a a community-based non-profit organization founded in 1998 with the mission to provide intellectual, emotional and interpersonal growth opportunities for youth and their families through advocacy, education, mentoring and community outreach.



[1] 2013

[2] In 2013

[3] Macro Trends Wilmington Crime Rate

[4] Poverty Rate in Wilmington, DE (welfareinfo.org)

[5] Delaware Online: 2021 Wilmington Gun Violence

[6] Wilmington, Delaware: Blood on streets is mostly from young people (delawareonline.com)

[7] www.healthaffairs.org

[8] https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/link-between-mental…

Date Created: September 28, 2022