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Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at the Chicago Metro Family Services Site Visit and Community Meeting


Chicago, IL
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

It was just two years ago that Attorney General Garland was in Chicago visiting one of your CVI partners, READI Chicago.

24 hours prior to his visit, two mass shootings occurred only a few blocks from here.

It is my understanding that many of the organizations represented here today, including UCAN and Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), responded to those shootings. You and your teams stepped into action to prevent retaliation and support those who were harmed.

We know that you are doing the critical work of responding to and preventing shootings, day in and day out.

Your work is saving lives. You are stopping the spread of violence, and you are creating hope for a better future.

Community violence intervention and prevention work starts from the premise that violence is not inevitable — it is preventable. When we reject violence as a fixture in the landscape, we see clearly that no person is disposable. We give up on no one.

I am proud to serve in a Justice Department that is supporting this work, here in Chicago and across the country.

Supporting community-based violence prevention and intervention programs is one of the four foundational principles of the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime.

Funding for these programs was also part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which added $50 million in funding for CVI programs in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, bringing the Justice Department’s total investment to $200 million for both years combined.

As you all know well, “community violence intervention and prevention” does not describe one particular kind of program or project.

The programs we are funding are guided by some basic principles: 

  • They must be community-centered, equitable inclusive;
  • They must be evidence-informed — through research and evaluation, case studies and expert opinions; and
  • They must be effective and sustainable.

Our funding is comprehensive and designed to support and help build community violence intervention programs in a variety of ways:

  • Site-based awards to nearly 50 communities in 24 states and territories to develop and implement violence intervention approaches;
  • Capacity-building awards to organizations like MFS who will work with and provide assistance to smaller community-based organizations that otherwise may not have access to federal funding;
  • Evaluation awards through the National Institute of Justice, to support rigorous study and evaluation of programs and develop an evidence base to inform future work; and
  • Training and technical assistance awards to organizations who can work with both grantees and organizations who did not receive funding; to help ensure that every community can access the support they need to stop shootings and save lives.

MFS, for example, has both a site-based award and a capacity-building award, and I look forward to hearing from you about your work and how we can continue to support you and your community partners.

We know, of course, that violence is so often a symptom of longstanding unmet community needs and inequities.

It is not lost on me that, nearly six decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right here in North Lawndale, leading the movement to improve living conditions for members of this community.

So much has changed, yet there is still so much work left to do. One thing that is clear by the looks of this room is that coalition building, partnerships and community voices are still at the center of this work.

Your work gives me hope, and I am confident that, together, we can turn the tide on gun violence in your community and this country.

Thank you for all that you do.

Updated June 8, 2023