$1M Tow Foundation Grant Funds Research Project on Gun Violence Prevention

$1M Tow Foundation Grant Funds Research Project on Gun Violence Prevention

The Center for Social Impact, in partnership with Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership (RYASAP) and PT Partners, will assess, design, and implement evidence-based solutions to persistent community violence.

Fairfield University’s Center for Social Impact, the Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership (RYASAP), and PT Partners have received a 3-year, $1 million grant from the Tow Foundation for a research project on gun violence prevention titled "Amplifying Resident Voices."

Although the number of gun homicides in Bridgeport, Connecticut is significantly lower today than in the 1980s and '90s, rates have plateaued, indicative of the intractable nature of gun violence in Connecticut’s cities — and cities across the U.S.

By building on what has worked in Bridgeport through the Youth Gun Violence Task Force, the "Amplifying Resident Voices” project expands on previous research and will assess, design, and implement evidence-based solutions to persistent community violence. The goal is to eliminate gun violence by working alongside resident leadership at the three main public housing communities in Bridgeport: PT Barnum Apartments, the Charles F. Greene Homes, and Trumbull Gardens, to learn from and build the capacity of community members most directly impacted by gun violence to identify and implement solutions. 

"We are deeply grateful for the Tow Foundation's generous support of the 'Amplifying Resident Voices' project," said Marc Donald, president and CEO of RYASAP. "The collaborative effort between RYASAP, Fairfield University, PT Partners, and residents is a powerful example of how, together, data and community engagement can create a safer and healthier future for Bridgeport."

Launched in January 2024, “Amplifying Resident Voices” will address public health activities core to preventing gun violence by:

  • Using surveys and ongoing community conversations to identify risk factors associated with gun violence (e.g., poverty and isolation), as well as protective factors (e.g., youth access to trusted adults).
  • Developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to reduce risk factors and build resilience, drawing from existing resources and programs such as RYASAP’s Street Safe and school-based and restorative practices programs. Evaluation strategies will be developed to track and measure the effectiveness of all interventions.
  • Working with resident leaders and community partners including the police department, housing, and health professionals, to institutionalize successful prevention strategies.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Fairfield University students and faculty to participate in a community-engaged research project,” said Center for Social Impact Director Melissa Quan, EdD. “‘Amplifying Resident Voices’ positions academic and community members as true partners and co-researchers employing a transdisciplinary approach that integrates traditional fields (such as public health and sociology) with expertise rooted in community and lived experience.”

PT Partners will lead the convening, designing, and facilitation of monthly meetings for residents, provide feedback on data analysis and reporting, and identify and facilitate resident leader involvement in research, in collaboration with RYASAP.

RYASAP’s Restorative Justice Programming will be an important resource to the intervention component of this project. Given the success of RYASAP’s school-led programs, the project will aim to expand this program to several new feeder schools that impact the public housing communities.

A reception and press event for “Amplifying Resident Voices” will take place on Tuesday, March 12 at 1 p.m. at Park City Music Hall, 2926 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, Conn.

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