Developed with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Implementation Checklist captures background information about CVI efforts, CVI guiding principles, and details on the following specific steps to take when implementing CVI programs:
- Step 1: Engage Community Members and Conduct a Community Violence Assessment
- Step 2: Form a Community Collaboration
- Step 3: Implement CVI
- Step 4: Setting CVI Up for Success
- Step 5: Measure Success
- Step 6: Sustain Success and Continuous Improvement
View step-by-step details below:
1.1: Get community input.
Actively engage residents and stakeholders to understand their perspectives on, and insights into, violence in the community and form trusting relationships that ensure equal and active roles throughout the CVI process.
- Engage with the community and share available data and information on local community violence to inform discussions, ensuring all residents and voices are represented, including those not typically represented in community initiatives.
- Build training opportunities to ensure that residents and other key stakeholders are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective public safety partners.
- Offer diverse opportunities for participation, creating multiple entry points for residents/stakeholders to get involved and stay engaged with CVI efforts.
- Consider potential roadblocks such as planning fatigue or skepticism among community residents and modify the CVI engagement strategy accordingly.
1.2 Collect and analyze data.
Compile data and perform an in-depth community violence assessment that identifies the people and places involved in violence, the root causes of violence, assets that can support the CVI strategies, and gaps/needs to be addressed.
- Use multiple qualitative and quantitative data sources, including:
- Law enforcement data to learn WHERE violence happens, WHO is involved in violence, WHAT type of violence is occurring, and WHEN violence most frequently occurs.
- Public health data to learn WHO is victimized, WHEN victimization occurs, and WHAT type of victimization is most frequent.
- Community organization data to learn WHO is receiving services for involvement in violence, WHERE community residents do not feel safe, WHY violence is occurring in certain places, WHAT are the community’s assets and needs, WHO are trusted leaders in the community, and WHAT are the underlying issues that cause violence.
- Landscape analysis to learn about the historical, current, and proposed policies, strategies, and systems impacting the community and community violence.
- Check for biases in data sources to mitigate their influence. Consult with research or technical assistance partners as necessary.
- Identify community policies, community comprehensive plans, and local assets and note existing strengths you can build upon for the CVI efforts, in addition to identifying any needs/gaps.
- Examine the local capacity for systems-led and community-based leadership of CVI. If community organizations do not have the capacity to implement federally funded programs, implement a plan to move toward community leadership over time.
2.1 Identify partners to form a collaboration for CVI.
Recruit partners with complementary missions and skill sets that can work together to help address the priorities you have selected.
- Identify public health partners such as hospital-based victim services, trauma centers, health departments, mental health services, and prevention specialists.
- Identify public sector partners such as law enforcement, courts and supervision, corrections, schools, housing, parks and recreation, and other municipal departments. Government entities should avoid artificial “turf” or boundary issues that hamper collaboration and information sharing.
- Identify community-based partners such as existing wraparound service providers, faith-based organizations, community leaders, resident organizations, community development corporations, job-training centers, re-entry programs, and victim service organizations, including domestic violence programs and rape crisis centers.
- Identify other service providers and institutional partners such as criminal-justice-based victim/witness assistance units, social service and behavioral health organizations, agencies treating substance use and mental health disorders, and arts and environmental organizations.
- Identify private entities such as local businesses, foundations, and job training and job placement partners.
2.2 Bring partners together and build trust.
Set expectations and conditions that will help you successfully manage the partnerships.
- Define the shared goals and vision for the CVI work.
- Define the roles and responsibilities of each partner clearly so each partner knows what is expected of them and how they will work with one another.
- Conduct any necessary relationship building to repair and overcome legacies of strained relationships or mistrust.
- Establish communication, coordination, and accountability processes including those that address philosophical differences regarding the goals/strategies of CVI efforts.
- Identify potentially overlapping strategies/policies/community efforts among partner organizations and assign roles accordingly to maximize the resources available to CVI efforts.
- Identify, engage, and hire trusted, credible messengers and practitioners from the community. Provide trainings, professional development and supports, and compensation for their work. Anticipate that special considerations may arise when employing individuals who have been involved with the justice system.
2.3 Strengthen the collaboration.
Ensure partners have the ongoing knowledge, skills, and resources needed to successfully implement the CVI approach.
- Determine whether all the necessary partners are engaged in the collaboration and identify any missing partners who need to be at the table.
- Build community-based organizations' capacity to strengthen and scale their work to effectively meet the complex needs of persons engaged and/or impacted by community violence.
- Work with a research partner and/or technical assistance partner to help identify where and with whom to focus CVI efforts and measure the CVI strategies' impact.
- Identify opportunities to include trauma-informed approaches and responses throughout CVI.
- Consider potential roadblocks such as organizations that lack experience working with persons with criminal history or gang affiliations. Address any capability and safety concerns up front to ensure referrals to these partners are successful.
3.1 Select the CVI strategies.
Review your CVI strategies and tailor your community's approach to ensure alignment with the highest risk individuals, groups, and locations as identified in the community violence assessment.
- Determine the priorities for your CVI strategies based on the results of the community violence assessment and community input. Consider:
- Specific areas of the community or neighborhood where violence more typically occurs.
- Specific types of violence that most impact the community.
- Specific groups or populations on which to focus the CVI strategies.
- These priorities should be tailored to your specific community.
- Select one or more CVI strategies. These strategies focus interventions on individuals at highest risk of involvement in violence and/or on places where violent incidents are most likely to occur.
- Consider including prevention programs that complement the selected interventions.
- Customize the CVI strategies so that they meet the needs, issues, and priorities of the local community, because CVI is not a model that can be easily replicated or implemented in a one-size-fits-all manner.
- Build a roadmap for the CVI strategies (a logic model) that provides a framework for implementation, program monitoring, and evaluation. A roadmap identifies the core components of a program and the connections among activities, process, and outcomes. Consider including a theory of change in the roadmap.
3.2 Create a supportive structure for implementation.
Establish a clear management structure to put the selected strategies into action and that identifies who runs the programs. This includes instituting processes for selecting community-based providers to operate the CVI programs, developing an agreed-upon action plan for program implementation, and building a flexible environment that allows for making necessary program changes over time.
- Select the CVI partners. Include a range of organizations and agencies with deep relationships in the community and experience in authentic community engagement that are well positioned to implement a CVI program and provide services. Consider professional qualifications as well as relevant experience and credibility with the individuals, groups, and location being served. Seek flexible funding from local and/or larger agencies, if needed, to pass through funds to smaller, less resourced partners.
- Create an action plan. When developed in collaboration with the key partners, this plan can help ensure everyone involved in implementation is on the same page and no key tasks fall through the cracks. An action plan includes all implementation tasks, deadlines, and person(s) responsible.
- Engage with training and technical assistance providers to address implementation issues and challenges and receive CVI training, as needed.
- Make changes to the CVI programs and/or strategies, as needed, so that throughout the implementation process, they are tailored to the needs of program participants or to meet the community's gaps and challenges.
4.1 Engage the community and seek frequent feedback on all aspects of CVI.
Community engagement and feedback are central to implementation, just as they are in previous steps. The focus during implementation is raising community awareness of the CVI efforts and progress, seeking continuous feedback to adjust and adapt the program as needed, and making concerted efforts to hear from community voices not typically heard.
- Use multiple communication channels to inform community members and stakeholders about CVI and how to access resources. These resources must reach the organizations supporting those communities and individuals most impacted by violence.
- Establish multiple feedback opportunities for community members to provide input on the CVI program's implementation such as community forums, online feedback mechanisms, and websites/social media.
- Continue to focus on authentic community engagement, ensuring all community groups are represented and diverse voices are heard.
- Compensate community-based partners and community members for their time and contributions. They are often asked to provide significant input/effort without recognition of the value of their time.
- Develop a continuous quality improvement plan to ensure that all community input is incorporated into the CVI program.
4.2 Assess CVI partners and law enforcement collaboration.
Determine the role of law enforcement agencies in the CVI strategies, as well as the type of relationship that needs to be established between law enforcement and the CVI partners. The relationship should consider issues of trust and safety, including privacy and the treatment of intelligence and sensitive law enforcement information.
- Determine the level of collaboration between the CVI partners and law enforcement as well as court supervision and corrections required for successful implementation, and communicate this to all stakeholders involved. Emphasize the shared goals of saving lives and promoting community safety.
- Provide the CVI partners and law enforcement stakeholders with cross-training opportunities so that they understand and respect each other’s roles and the importance of alignment and collaboration in supporting the CVI program.
- Establish the frequency and channels through which the CVI partners and law enforcement stakeholders will share data, information, and feedback, as needed.
4.3 Develop holistic, trauma-informed approaches for the CVI program.
Trauma-informed approaches reduce the likelihood of retraumatizing individuals and communities, can help to mitigate the effects of prior trauma, and disrupt cycles of multigenerational trauma. They optimally promote safety, trust, empowerment, and healing for individuals at highest risk for involvement in violence, and for communities as a whole. Trauma-informed care is critical to safe and supportive crisis intervention, wraparound service provision, and other central CVI activities.
- Provide training to CVI stakeholders and program staff on the impact of trauma, research on adverse childhood experiences, and trauma-informed care.
- Integrate trauma-informed policies into all aspects of the CVI program or initiative.
- Provide comprehensive wraparound services for program participants and their family members, if appropriate, including cognitive-based therapy, subsidized employment, life coaching, supportive healing, case management, restorative justice opportunities, and community empowerment resources.
- Establish mechanisms to engage, incentivize, and retain participants for the full length of the CVI program, or for an adequate amount of time for the holistic supports to have impact.
4.4 Develop and support CVI staff.
Staff selection, professional development, and staff supports must be strategic and meaningful to ensure program stability and staff's capacity for success.
- Recruit trusted, credible messengers who are able to connect with, gain the trust of, and motivate people who are at highest risk for involvement in violence to successfully challenge and transform their harmful thought processes, attitudes, and actions.
- Institute a leadership structure to manage CVI staff that includes best practices for hiring, vetting, training, and ensuring safe practices. Stay informed about recommended fair chance hiring approaches and proactively address any potential issues when employing individuals who were previously involved with the justice system.
- Provide staff, particularly outreach workers and violence interrupters, with comprehensive support, including adequate training (e.g., trauma and respite support), management, income, and job security.
- Build staff knowledge and skills through ongoing professional development, advancement, and career track opportunities.
5.1 Identify and track the CVI program's performance measures.
Engage in a continuous process of measuring, tracking, and reporting progress toward program goals as well as documenting successes.
- Identify and track the CVI performance measures for continuous improvement. Learn about the difference between program evaluation and performance measurement.
- Measure program quality as part of the performance measurement.
- Include community members' feedback when defining the performance measures and indicators of success.
- Hold the collaborating partners accountable by developing and tracking metrics on their participation and activities.
5.2 Collect and analyze data on the CVI program's outcomes.
Data collection can be challenging for CVI programs, but adding to the evidence base is important to secure future funding and sustainability.
- Use data from multiple sources to assess and analyze outcomes. Read examples of CVI evaluation reports: Early Signs of Success for Chicago Street Outreach Collaboration, Outcome Evaluation of Advance Peace Sacramento, READI Chicago, and The Effects of Cure Violence in The South Bronx and East New York, Brooklyn.
- Understand the biases in common data sources to mitigate their influence.
5.3 Evaluate the CVI strategy.
Consistent, ongoing evaluation provides an objective way to determine the CVI strategies' impact, and it yields tangible lessons learned to improve the CVI program in real time.
- Create an evaluation plan that incorporates process and outcome measures. This resource provides a step-by-step framework to plan and implement an evaluation.
- Incorporate racial equity and inclusion into the evaluation plan, as some data measures may not fully capture the holistic experiences of the community (e.g., calls-for-service data as crimes are often under- or unreported).
- Work with a research partner who can serve as an objective expert to conduct the evaluation. Learn tips for selecting a research partner here and here.
6.1 Implement a sustainability process.
Sustainability planning is a process for identifying what aspects of a CVI program work in a community and maintaining positive outcomes over time. To maintain positive outcomes, the CVI partners must continuously assess and devote fiscal resources to their CVI efforts.
- Plan for sustainability early by building relationships with representatives from the public, private, and community sectors who can play important roles in continuing local efforts over time. Identify the representatives who may become CVI champions and capable of gaining and sustaining community buy-in, support, and resources for CVI.
- Use performance measures, evaluation findings, storytelling, and culturally literate messaging to demonstrate CVI's value to the community and potential funders in order to sustain the effort over time.
- Achieve and maintain financial stability by building a grant/funding strategy with the CVI partners.
- Continuously learn from and leverage other communities’ CVI experiences and efforts by forming peer-to-peer partnerships with CVI programs in other jurisdictions.