Building a Cohesive Network of Violence Prevention and Intervention Programming in Kansas City

January 15, 2022

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FUSE Corps

Over the past year, the Kansas City has seen the collision of two major public health crises – Covid-19 and gun violence. Kansas City is now working with federal authorities and community partners to revive and broaden its strategies to address the city’s epidemic of violent crime. To support this work, FUSE will partner with Kansas City to support holistically scaling and implementing violence intervention programs in the city.

This fellowship project begins on April 25, 2022, and ends on April 24, 2023. The fellowship begins with a multi-day virtual orientation the week of April 25, 2022. The selected Executive Fellow will begin their first day of providing services to the host agency on May 2, 2022. 

PROJECT CONTEXT

Over the past year, the United States has seen the collision of two major public health crises – Covid-19 and gun violence. The pandemic has intensified the impact of the country’s gun violence crisis, with 2020 having the highest rate of gun-related deaths in the last two decades. The effects of Covid-19 and gun violence are not evenly felt by all residents. Black and Latino communities face the heaviest burden of gun violence in cities, with generations of systemic racial discrimination and inequities in housing, education, and jobs exacerbating the risks of gun violence. These same inequities have facilitated Black and Latino communities becoming more vulnerable to severe illness and death from Covid-19.

Unfortunately, Kansas City has seen the deadly impact of these crises firsthand. Despite some efforts by community groups and government agencies, Kansas City struggles with violent crime and gun violence in particular. Kansas City’s homicide rate has continually increased during the past five years, with a record 176 homicides and 630 non-fatal shootings occurring in 2020 alone. Black communities in Kansas City have also been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, contracting the virus at high rates, having access to fewer permanent testing sites, and facing lower rates of vaccination than white residents. The disproportionate impact of both the virus and gun violence in Kansas City reflects persistent racial inequities and underscores the need for meaningful community-centered programs, policy, and financial investments in historically underserved communities.

With this in mind, Kansas City is working with federal authorities and community partners to revive and broaden its violence-reduction strategies to address the city’s epidemic of violent crime. This includes the launch of a new comprehensive program called the Community Safety Partnership. This program is a collaboration with the DOJ and their public safety partnership program that focuses on long-term community-based commitments across four pillars: prevention, intervention, enforcement, and trust-building. In 2021, the Community Safety Partnership was further outlined in a 48-page strategic plan, in which lasting violence reduction was recognized as best facilitated through violence prevention and intervention programs. 

Kansas City (KC) will partner with FUSE Corps for one year to support holistically scaling and implementing such violence intervention programs. The FUSE Executive Fellow will support the coordination, refinement, and assessment of current programming, understand the level and type of violence intervention services still needed, and work with state and local officials to streamline victim-witness support services. The Executive Fellow will ensure the programs are sustainably funded, maximizing the benefits of neighborhood-based and social services violence intervention programs for years to come.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the executive fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2022, it is proposed that the FUSE Executive Fellow will conduct an initial listening tour and quickly build deep relationships with a wide range of critical stakeholders, including staff across City Departments, focusing on members of the Community Safety Partnership; content experts, other cities with successful violence intervention programs, and non-profits, community-based organizations, and social service providers that administer supports and wraparound services for victims and witnesses of gun violence. These conversations will be essential to understanding the barriers to implementing and scaling violence prevention and intervention programs in KC. The Executive Fellow will utilize these conversations to complete a landscape assessment, mapping the universe of KC’s current violence intervention programming. The Executive Fellow will identify what services are provided, who these programs serve, usage or underutilization of the programs, user needs, programmatic successes, financial and policy gaps, and silos between players in the space.

The Executive Fellow will then form a strategy for building a holistic violence intervention programming network in KC. The Executive Fellow will primarily focus on refining and building out the core functionality of the city’s Client Advocate Program – reimaging and building off of the program’s predecessor, the KC No Violence Alliance. This strategy will also include recommendations to break down silos, increase cross-departmental coordination, and improve processes, integrating best practices. These recommendations should ensure providers can collaborate more intentionally and that KC’s violence intervention program portfolio operates efficiently and effectively. Another critical component of the strategy will include determining how to sustain and scale the programs financially. This will consist of modeling the financial commitments or resource investments required.

Next, the Executive Fellow will create a comprehensive and agile framework to implement the strategy. This will include building a cohesive vision for the program’s execution, establishing clear roles of internal and external stakeholders, workflows, timelines around milestones, and metrics for tracking progress. The Executive Fellow will initiate activities that are most urgent and or are considered low-hanging fruit. This will include designing and facilitating a victim-witness support services workgroup, creating a culture of consistent information between social service providers who support victims and witnesses of gun violence in the city.

Through this work, the efforts of KC’s Community Safety Partnership will be bolstered, and KC will make great strides towards continually reducing gun violence and building trust between the criminal justice system and the KC community. By April 2023, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:

  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape Conduct an in-depth landscape analysis of violence prevention and intervention programming, collating all relevant service providers, partners, policies, and processes; map potential gaps and identify opportunities and cross-cutting themes; determine national best practices
  • Develop a strategy for holistic violence intervention programmingBuild out recommendations that address any gaps identified, improve processes, and streamline communication between providers, ultimately better supporting the needs of victims and witnesses of gun violence; form a comprehensive model for the functionality of the Client Advocate Program, carving out a unique role for the team in the city’s broader violence intervention programming ecosystem
  • Engage stakeholders and catalyze buy-in – Interview stakeholders and strengthen existing lines of communication between them; identify barriers to implementing the strategy and build cross-departmental collaborations and private-public partnerships that can facilitate implementation; solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders to build consensus around the plan
  • Leverage financial assets to support program and strategy implementation – Detail the financial commitments and resources necessary to sustain and scale successful program or pilot new programs, planning to leverage multiple funding streams over time; build a marketing and fundraising strategy, focusing on the potential impact of the Client Advocate Program primarily, identifying potential grant opportunities and supporting grant applications
  • Form implementation framework and oversee implementation of ‘early wins’ – Establish short-term and long-term goals, identify a timeline for each recommendation’s integration, set roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders, determine workflows; oversee implementation of a handful of process improvements that can be instituted quickly using existing resources or altering existing programs; design a victim-witness support services workgroup, cultivating relevant stakeholder participation, defining the format and agenda of the workgroup, and setting a schedule for the frequency of meetings
  • Ensure sustainability, determine how to measure outcomes, and assess progressDevelop the necessary internal and external systems to ensure that recommendations are sustainable and successfully implemented, work with stakeholders to identify relevant data and metrics that intersect with each recommendation, integrate a method of tracking progress on the recommendations; support capacity building, work with stakeholders and department leadership to manage the programs

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Morgan Said, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
  • Project Supervisor – Melesa Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
  • Community Safety Partnership Board 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Approximately 15 years of professional experience in project management; background working in or with social services and law enforcement beneficial
  • Experience working in politically charged environments, prowess in managing delicate situations or stakeholders with patience
  • Background in strategic planning and implementing systems-focused initiatives and policy regarding the justice system, particularly in the areas of victim advocacy, social services, and community-based supports
  • Robust community engagement skills, working knowledge of issues related to victims or witnesses of gun violence
  • Cross-cultural agility, relating to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Resiliency, having thrived in high-pressure and complex environments
  • Strong change management skills
  • Easily able to communicate wins and utilize data to make a business case
  • Robust success in cultivating partnerships, relationship and coalition building, and fostering collaborative environments
  • Easily able to pivot and create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations
  • A self-motivated, goal-oriented, and entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.
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