RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a nearly $6 million grant by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to fight youth violence in the city.
According to the press release by University Affairs, VCU will work closely with members of the Richmond community and local organizations to carry out objectives detailed in the five-year-grant.
“We will be working with city residents and community partners to improve our capacity to overcome issues that affect the health of youth,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Saba Masho, professor of family medicine at VCU School of Medicine.
University researchers and community partners will work with residents of three neighborhoods in North, East and South Richmond to identify pre-existing programs in each community and build on the strengths of those programs.
“We would like to create a positive opportunity for our youth and for them to grow in a healthy environment,” Dr. Masho added.
The project will include continuous assessment of outcomes through community surveys and various forms of surveillance data.
VCU hopes the intervention strategies developed during the five-year grant may promote healthy communities and reduce violence rates in Richmond, where school officials say they are dealing with an increase in gang violence and hundreds of students ending up in courtrooms.
“We have a lot more students affiliating themselves with specifically named gangs,” school board member Kim Gray told 8News Reporter Mark Tenia. “We are on a really bad trajectory and this can turn things around for us. We are fighting every day to prevent the violence in our school buildings.”