USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

About the Institute for Violence Prevention

About the Institute for Violence Prevention

The Institute for Violence Prevention (IVP) was a program that included workshops, resources, research and development, and one on one mentoring for clergy and faith-based nonprofit leaders committed to change public policy on gang prevention and intervention. The California Endowment funded IVP at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture to teach civic engagement strategies leading to transforming public policy on gang prevention and intervention.

Some consider Los Angeles County to be the gang capital of the world. According to the Advancement Project, there are 700 gangs with an estimated 40,000 members in Los Angeles. The report argues that gang-related violence has reached epidemic level; 75% percent of California’s youth gang homicides occur in Los Angeles County. The report states: “This epidemic is largely immune to general declines in crime. And it is spreading to formerly safe middle class neighborhoods.” Learn more about the Advancement Project. Ultimately, IVP sought to save lives in Los Angeles.

IVP staff included

  • Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Tansey Professor of Christian Ethics
  • Prof. Donald E. Miller, Executive Director of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture
  • Ms. Brie Loskota, Managing Director, CRCC
  • Ms. Sumaya Abubaker, Project Manager, CRCC
  • Rev. Frank Jackson, Community Outreach Coordinator, CRCC
  • Rev. Jim Ortiz, Community Outreach Coordinator, CRCC
  • Rev. Mark Whitlock, Director of Community Initiatives, CRCC
  • Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)

USC Scholars, gang prevention practitioners, public policy lawyers, Los Angeles Police Department, Los District Attorney Office, and LA Mayor’s Office on Gang Prevention provided vital information and resources for IVP Fellows.

IVP admitted forty fellows from three primary Los Angeles Zip Codes identified by Los Angeles Police Department. The Fellows were chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants. The fellows submitted a written application, participated in a one on one interview with an IVP Community Coordinator, and were approved by the IVP Admission’s Committee. Fellows received a certificate after completing each module.

In April, CRCC faculty and staff published Opening the Gates: L.A Congregations Confronting Gang Violence , a report that proposes some answers to the challenges that confront congregations in neighborhoods with issues of community violence.