USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Opening the Gates

Enhancing Faith-Community Efforts on Gang Violence

Equipped with a more in-depth understanding of the social ecology of neighborhoods impacted by gang violence, we determined our objectives:

  1. Equip congregations with skills to address gang issues
  2. Deepen theological frameworks to support an ongoing
    commitment to community work
  3. Bridge racial/ethnic/theological divides
  4. Enhance the organizational structures in which this work
    can take place.

With these objectives in mind, the Institute for Violence Prevention was initially designed as a fellowship program for congregations and other faith-based organizations. Through a nine-month program at the University of Southern California, including a week-long intensive followed by monthly evening meetings for community-building, mentoring, and classroom learning, participants explored ways to deepen their commitment to addressing gang violence in their communities. In addition, opportunities to understand best practices by leaders in the field and to understand current policy work in Southern California were offered in supplemental programs. IVP was formed to allow participants to develop their skills and networks so that they could implement their own initiatives or join with others in partnership to address gang violence in their communities.

Richard Flory is the executive director of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Donald E. Miller is the co-founder of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Brie Loskota is the former executive director (2016-2021) of the USC Center for Religion and Civil Culture.