Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,750,000)
Heartland Alliance (HA) envisions a public safety ecosystem in which evidence-informed, high-impact community-based organizations (CBOs) drive individual and community safety, health, and well-being. To help realize this vision, HA has recently launched the READI National Center for Safe Communities (The Center), an ambitious undertaking that brings together field support, program innovation, and knowledge advancement to build and elevate the field of community violence intervention. The Center’s field support efforts are focused on partnering with communities most impacted by gun violence to identify and reinforce their strengths and develop their opportunity areas; work with other TTA providers define standards of practices and harmonize indicators; and documenting and promoting best and promising practices to a broad range of stakeholders.
Through the OJP grant, The Center will work to disrupt the way CVI technical assistance is delivered. Technical assistance (TA) is typically presented as an external expert imparting their insight and experiences to help an individual or an organization solve a problem. The role between expert and learner is clearly delineated, and the demand for TA is driven by a problem. Instead, The Center will help communities re-envision TA engagements as an opportunity to exchange knowledge. The Center will serve as an intermediary for that knowledge exchange, identifying organization interested in partnering to mutually strengthen their capacities. The Center will support these exchanges by working with interested partners to identify their strengths and area of expertise and matching them with sites who have expressed interest in those areas. Furthermore, The Center will develop and test new and engaging processes and tools to support knowledge exchange. It will also plan a key role in gathering, developing, curating, and sharing knowledge resources across partners.
The mutual capacity strengthening approach to technical assistance is not only strength-based, but it supports improved collaboration and accountability across the sector. If organizations seeking TA are encouraged and expected to see themselves as experts, it is likely they will be more proactively monitor and evaluate their interventions and adopt evidence-informed approaches. As a result, the CVI field will be better equipped to design, implement, monitor, and sustain effective programs.