After gun violence claimed the life of a Cedar Rapids teen in 2015, community members came together to form the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities (SET) Task Force. For two years, the task force engaged community partners, including the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Cedar Rapids Community School District, local nonprofit organizations and neighborhood groups. The goal of the task force was to address systemic causes of youth violence in Linn County to move toward safer, more equitable and thriving communities.
In a February 2017 report, the task force made recommendations that target improved economic opportunity, educational success, safe and affordable housing, supportive law enforcement practices and improved access to youth programming and other health and human services. In 2018 the task force asked the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to help facilitate a competitive grantmaking process focused on working toward those recommendations.
Contributions from the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and the Cedar Rapids Community School District were used to establish the Creating Safe, Equitable and Thriving (SET) Communities Fund.
Since 2019, the fund has granted $408,000 in support of 21 community-based programs and projects working to make our community safe, equitable and thriving. The fund has supported programs that approach systemic causes of economic, racial, and academic disparities and/or aims to avoid, reduce, or stop high risk behaviors that can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system.
In 2020, the SET Fund received a $465,000 grant from an anonymous donor to increase the funding pool for local nonprofits and implement Group Violence Intervention (GVI) in Cedar Rapids. GVI, developed by the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC), is an evidence-based approach that creates a network of care for those most impacted by violence.
The GVI strategy brings community members together with law enforcement and social service providers to focus an antiviolence message on highly active street groups. The first community implementation training occurred in November 2020. GVI focuses on the groups at highest risk for violent victimization and offending, with the intention to keep them alive, safe, and out of prison. The GVI partnership, which includes law enforcement, community representatives, and social service providers, communicates directly with group members, conveying a powerful community message about disapproval for violence and in support of community aspirations; concrete opportunities for both immediate and longer-term assistance and support; and clear prior notice of the legal risks associated with continued violence. The partnership then delivers swiftly on these commitments. The GVI strategy is currently managed by Foundation 2.
SET Fund Grantmaking
Grantmaking from the SET Fund currently supports the GVI strategy implementation.
To view a list of past grant recipients from the SET Fund, click here.
SET Task Force Report
To view the 2017 SET Task Force Report, click here.
Group Violence Intervention Model
For a deeper understanding of the GVI Model and its implementation, we recommend the following resources:
- National Network for Safe Communities Group Violence Intervention Model – click here.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention Technical Package – click here.
- Iowa Ideas – Closing Keynote with David M. Kennedy – click here.
- Iowa Ideas – Panel on GVI Support & Outreach – click here.
- Community Learning Series: Working Together to Reduce Youth Violence – click here.
Community Learning Series: Working Together to Reduce Youth Violence
On May 4, 2021, the Community Foundation hosted a virtual Community Learning Series: Working Together to Reduce Youth Violence event. The event was facilitated by Rachel Rockwell, SET Program Officer at the Community Foundation and included three panelists sharing information about the implementation of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Model. A recording of the event, the video shared and information about the panelists can be found here.
Learn from partners about the needs of youth in our community and how the Group Violence Intervention Model can impact our community.
During the summer of 2020, during the pandemic and social unrest, this video titled “When You Pick Up a Gun” was created and shared.
On October 29, 2019, the Community Foundation was awarded a Gazette Business Excellence Award for its work on this effort. Watch the video below that was shared at the event.