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RTI Wins Four CDC Awards to Enhance Violence Prevention Programs

RTI International has been granted three awards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a fourth as a subcontractor to the Prevention Institute to bolster violence prevention efforts across four critical areas: suicide, youth violence and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), firearm violence, and sexual violence.

These prevention efforts all align with the recently announced Strategic Priorities for 2020-2024 for CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention (DVP), which will focus on (1) increasing the number people exposed to prevention strategies that are proven to reduce violence, (2) reducing ACEs, and (3) expanding understanding of how to prevent firearm-related injuries and deaths. RTI is proud to support the CDC in these prevention efforts and help identify, evaluate, disseminate, and implement proven prevention strategies that will have a landmark impact on individuals and communities.

In addition to aligning with CDC’s strategic priorities, two of the grants also address issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic: suicide and firearm violence, especially among people of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID. RTI will research methods to help strengthen prevention efforts in these areas by evaluating the effectiveness of CDC’s current strategies and making expert recommendations for strategic changes to prevent suicide and other forms of violence. 

One grant will also seek to understand a daily tragedy in the United States—the fact that about 109 people die from firearm-related injury every day. In a historic funding announcement, the CDC has awarded sixteen research grants to understand and prevent firearm violence as well as promote community safety.

These four CDC projects are led by researchers in the RTI Center on Social Determinants, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Science, which is dedicated to promoting evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, and treatment strategies to help communities thrive. RTI experts will provide their proficiency in evaluation, training and technical assistance, data analysis, systematic literature reviews, and environmental scans to combat multiple forms of violence across the United States.  

These cross-institute collaborations also include researchers in the Division of Applied Justice Research (AJR) and the Center for Data Science.

“We are excited about the opportunity to substantially expand our comprehensive and collaborative violence prevention research across the United States,” said Senior Director of the RTI Center on Social Determinants, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Science, Dr. Phillip W. Graham. “Our Center emphasizes the value and importance of applied research that embraces community partnerships and recognizes community stakeholders are key to the success of that work. As communities are confronted with issues of systemic racism, inequities, a pandemic, and restricted access to services and opportunities, it is critical to implement and study strategies that reflect the appropriate contextual understanding. We believe the research that is embedded in each of these projects will advance the science around supporting communities in general but marginalized and underserved communities in particular.”

Learn More About RTI’s New CDC Prevention Research Grants:

Effectiveness of Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience (ACER) and Community Organizing for Preventing Youth Violence and ACEs

Led by Dr. Phillip W. Graham, this award from the CDC Division of Violence Prevention seeks to prevent (ACEs), including traumatic events that can negatively affect a minor’s physical and behavioral health. RTI will evaluate the effectiveness of the ACER violence prevention framework combined with community organizing in stopping child abuse, neglect, and youth violence in Milwaukee. The ACER project builds on an existing partnership between the Prevention Institute and the Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention to heal from ongoing community traumas including incidents of police use of force affecting African American residents. Findings will inform approaches to strengthen community resilience and prevent multiple forms of violence experienced by youth, and RTI will help determine best strategies to distribute these methods to communities.

An Examination of Firearm Violence Crises Using Crisis Text Line Data: Filling a Critical Gap

Led by Dr. Anna Yaros, this project will help mitigate the high number of firearm-related injuries and deaths that occur daily in the United States. The RTI team, co-led by AJR’s Ashley Lowe, will analyze Crisis Text Line data related to multiple types of firearm violence to help inform prevention approaches and improve understanding of gun-related violence. The data science team (led by Rob Chew) in RTI's Center for Data Science will apply machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to this rich source of text data to study relationships between firearm violence, mental health crises, and exacerbations introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal to inform CDC’s applied strategies in keeping people safe from firearm-related injuries, death, and crime. This award is an important step towards protecting communities from gun violence and its consequences and is a historic CDC funding opportunity in progress towards prevention.

Evaluating the Effects of the Bar Outreach Project in North Carolina

Led by Dr. Marni Kan, a prevention researcher at RTI, this project will evaluate the effectiveness of primary prevention programs, policies, and practices implemented by the CDC’s Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) Program. The goal of the RPE program is to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts by changing the social norms around sexual assault and increasing bystander intervention in potentially dangerous situations through a Bar Outreach Program developed and implemented by Our Voice in Buncombe County, NC since 2012. Research funded by this grant will expand the evidence base for these strategies which include promoting social norms opposing violence, opportunities to empower girls and women, and creating protective environments.

Learn More About RTI’s New CDC Prevention Contract:

CDC Suicide Prevention Technical Package Update

Led by Dr. Anna Yaros, this contract with the Prevention Institute (PI) supports CDC’s efforts to update their Suicide Prevention Technical Package with consideration of making the package relevant during catastrophic events, like the COVID-19 pandemic. RTI will update knowledge about suicide prevention through a systematic literature review and environmental scan of suicide prevention interventions, including those for populations showing recent suicide attempt rate increases such as African American youth. The project will re-examine existing methods within the CDC’s technical package and provide expert input on new evidence-based strategies for suicide prevention. After renewing the CDC’s Technical Package with the latest strategies, the RTI team will support PI in disseminating modules that will assist communities in using the new suicide prevention package within the infrastructure disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever due to social isolation, prevention efforts against suicide and support from the community are crucial.

Learn more about RTI’s prevention work.