News Gun Violence Initiative Violence & Abuse

Joining forces with United Way on gun violence prevention

Washington University in St. Louis and the United Way of Greater St. Louis have formed a joint partnership that aims to provide support and resources to local initiatives that are uniting in their efforts to combat gun violence in the region.

The St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Collaborative will work to reduce violent crime in the region by promoting a coordinated, well-resourced support system and interventions among area governments, institutions and agencies that serve individuals and families most at risk of violent crime. The group comprises more than 20 initiatives representing education, healthcare, law enforcement, local government, neighborhood groups, and social services.

“Violence in our community is an issue that affects every one of us, no matter who we are or where we live,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “It is a problem that requires a coordinated response, and we each must play a role in finding a solution. This collaborative represents a significant step forward in organizing efforts that are already underway in the St. Louis region on the individual, civic and governmental levels.”

The Violence Prevention Collaborative is the culmination of a series of meetings that Washington University and the United Way have convened since last spring, bringing together community stakeholders to discuss the need for a coordinated system of social, educational, physical and behavioral health and other services for those in the community who are at the highest risk of experiencing violent crime.

“This collaboration among nonprofit organizations, governments, and other stakeholders doing the important work of gun violence prevention will propel our region toward an alignment of efforts in this space,” Orvin Kimbrough, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis, said. “Working together toward a common goal is a key aspect of collective impact.”

“As we have been exploring the efforts that are currently underway throughout the community, it has become clear that the many programs and organizations that are already doing good and important work would benefit greatly from regional alignment and a coordinated approach,” said Jason Purnell, assistant professor at Washington University’s Brown School and a faculty scholar in the university’s Institute for Public Health. “By pooling our collective knowledge and resources at a ‘common table,’ we will ultimately strengthen our impact.”

The collaborative is reflective of the mission of an initiative Washington University launched last spring to bring together scholars, medical professionals, community leaders and citizens to take a hard look at the serious, tragic public health consequences of gun violence in America. Led by the Institute for Public Health, “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis” is a yearlong effort that explores three key themes: What we know, what we need to know, and what to do about this critical issue.

The Institute for Public Health will mark the one-year anniversary of the initiative with a symposium to be held April 5 at Washington University. Featured speakers will include Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research; Deborah Prothrow-Stith, MD, activist and author of Deadly Consequences: How Violence is Destroying Our Teenage Population and a Plan to Begin Solving the Problem; and Stephen Hargarten, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and associate dean for the Global Health Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin.