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Chicago has the people, tools, and resources to eliminate gun violence, but success requires us to work together in a new way. 

Over the past 60 years, our society has relied too heavily on the criminal legal system to solve a complex set of problems. To that end, it is vital to build a civilian infrastructure capable of responding in a timely manner to a variety of crises. A single organization cannot solve gun violence in a single neighborhood let alone across all of Chicago. Research demonstrates that what is needed is a data-informed and coordinated network of institutions spanning the nonprofit, public and private sectors that share a common vision, strategy, and structure to drive collaboration, transparency, and accountability.  This collaborative network is the Civilian Architecture of Violence Reduction.  

“Achieving the vision to live in a city free of violence requires that we collaborate across organizations, communities and sectors. Communities Partnering 4 Peace continues to demonstrate that we are stronger together and thanks the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago for its leadership and advocacy for our partnership."

Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director of Metropolitan Peace Initiatives

Given our deep experience of building similar networks in other cities, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago has been a leader in co-creating a robust and sustainable Civilian Architecture in Chicago.  Anchoring the Civilian Architecture is Partners for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC), a coalition of over 30 foundations committed to coordinating funding to Community Violence Intervention (CVI) organizations, and Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), a group of 15 organizations, including INVC, working in the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago. 


Over the years, Chicago’s Civilian Architecture has grown to an unprecedented collaboration and partnership that now includes over two dozen CVI organizations, a deep set of community-based organizations offering a range of services including job training, mental health, education, housing, etc., philanthropists, academic institutions, the business community, along with city, county, and state representatives.  Chicago’s CVI organizations employ and stipend over 1,500 people throughout the city doing this critical work.  


Communities Partnering 4 Peace


Co-founded by the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, CP4P is an unprecedented collaboration among 13 leading outreach and restorative justice organizations that are reducing gun violence in Chicago with a comprehensive, evidence-based, trauma-informed approach. We now service 27 neighborhoods accounting for over 70% of the city’s shootings.


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As a result of the Civilian Architecture:

  • Both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago have dedicated researchers to evaluating the efficacy of CVI programs across the city.

  • Chicago’s corporate community is engaging the CVI community in meaningful ways to increase employment and opportunities for those at highest risk.

  • CP4P launched the Metropolitan Peace Academy, a multi-disciplinary training platform designed to train and develop leadership among practitioners to enhance their ability to implement best practices in violence reduction, including multi-sector collaboration.

  • And the State of Illinois created its first Office of Firearm Violence Prevention. 


Additionally, the depth and breadth of the Civilian Architecture has enabled CVIs to engage the Chicago Police Department (CPD) more effectively to work in parallel ways to reduce violence, while respecting professional boundaries. While the relationship between CVIs and the CPD is fraught with risks for both sides, when done correctly and with trust, research demonstrates the combined efforts have a multiplier effect in reducing gun violence.  As a sign of the strength of this relationship in Chicago, CPD has announced partnering with CVIs as one of its highest priorities.  


By building and investing in the Civilian Architecture, communities benefit from a more resilient and consistent support system. The Civilian Architecture is essential to dramatically reducing gun violence in our city. 

"This is the responsibility we take upon ourselves--to show up next to the police and say 'Civilians are going to be supportive as well. We're going to do our part.'"

Teny Gross, Executive Director

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