Community Violence Intervention

CVI Leadership Academy

The Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy is a first-of-its-kind program to train community violence intervention leaders from across America.

Challenge

While the homicide rate has decreased nationwide since its historic high in the 1990s, many American cities are experiencing more gun violence than ever before. This gun violence has exacerbated the safety gap in American cities and taken a devastating toll on communities of color. The urgent day-to-day work of saving lives falls primarily to two sectors: police departments and community violence intervention organizations. These sectors have not yet been able to capitalize on the advances in data-driven management practices that have transformed many other sectors to make an organization’s operations and decisions more efficient and effective.

Opportunity

The Crime Lab launched the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVILA) in light of the success of data-driven management and investment in CVI in New York and Los Angeles and Crime Lab research showing the game-changing impact of overhauling public safety management practices. The CVILA is not just a certificate program; it is an executive leadership education program designed to strengthen organizations that work to reduce violence.

Solution

Through a rigorous curriculum taught by expert practitioners and academic scholars at a world-class university, the CVILA provides leaders of CVI organizations with hands-on training in program management, staff development and retention, data literacy, evaluation, and more so that they ultimately can make a greater impact at scale. This training equips CVI leaders with transferable skills, fostering well-rounded and skilled leaders within their communities and enhancing overall public safety.

Project Overview

The Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVILA) is a first-of-its-kind education program designed to deepen the leadership and management practices of senior CVI leaders so they can effectively manage community-based organizations and implement CVI strategies at scale. Its purpose is to provide senior CVI leaders with five months of hands-on education, with the goal of achieving its two interconnected goals: reducing gun violence and scaling the CVI field. The CVILA supports participants in achieving these goals by strengthening their leadership and management skills, expanding their networks, and supporting them in their efforts to elevate and advocate for the CVI field. The curriculum combines classroom instruction with immersive learning labs. During the first cohort, CVILA students participated in immersive learning labs in Chicago, New York, and Oakland hosted by UCAN, LIFE Camp, and Live Free USA, respectively.

 

Watch this video about the inaugural cohort of the CVILA.

 

Year Started

2022 – present

Project Leads

Rodrigo Canales

Rodrigo Canales

Kelli Questrom Associate Professor of Management and Organizations Academic Director, Social Impact Program, Questrom School of Business

Alesisia Cobb

Alesisia Cobb

Program Manager, Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy

Mark Saint

Mark Saint

Director of Curriculum and Learning

Kim Smith

Kim Smith

Director of Programs

Chico Tillmon

Chico Tillmon

Executive Director of the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy

Arin Zwonitzer

Arin Zwonitzer

Program Fellow

Related Resources
Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Brief
Overview

Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Brief

May 2024

Learn more about the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy in this brief.

Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Steering Committee and Curriculum Developers

Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Steering Committee and Curriculum Developers

Apr 2024

View the members of the CVILA’s steering committee and curriculum developers.

Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Week in Washington, D.C.
Video

Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy Week in Washington, D.C.

Feb 2024

View highlights from the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy’s week in Washington, D.C. in February 2024 including capstone presentations, meeting with policymakers, and the graduation event at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Leadership Academy Spotlight
Video

Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Leadership Academy Spotlight

Nov 2023

Watch violence prevention experts speak to the significance of our CVI Leadership Academy in this short video.

Steering Committee

A team of key community violence intervention leaders from across the country serve on the CVILA Steering Committee. We are grateful to these leaders who crafted the CVILA curriculum and who have been instrumental in the academy’s development to provide participants with transferable skills that they can leverage to support other organizations and groups, fostering well-rounded and skilled leaders within their communities and improving overall public safety.

Members

  • Dr. Shani Buggs, Assistant Professor, Violence Prevention Research Program, University of California Davis
  • Dr. Antonio Cediel, Special Advisor for Live Free USA
  • Erica Ford, Founder and former CEO of LIFE Camp
  • Marcus McAllister, a national violence prevention expert
  • Pastor Michael McBride, Executive Director of Live Free USA
  • Oresa Napper-Williams, Executive Director of Not Another Child
  • Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United
  • Dr. Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of the CVILA, University of Chicago Crime Lab

 

We are also grateful to Greg Jackson who served on the CVILA Steering Committee up until his appointment to the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September 2023.

Watch this video about the CVILA’s week in Washington, D.C. in February 2024.

Watch this video about the Immersive Lab in Oakland, CA in January 2024.

Watch this short video on the significance of the CVILA from September 2024.

We stand as the nation’s first university to spearhead such an initiative, directly translating our research into action to combat community violence nationwide. Our graduates are living proof that academic rigor and community leadership can converge to forge significant, life-saving change. This program is a proud example of our commitment to creating safer communities through scholarly excellence and practical application.

Paul Alivisatos

University of Chicago President

Every time you make sure that we address the gun violence crisis not just from the angle of public safety—but also from the angle of public health—the work these graduates are doing will saves lives.

Wes Moore

Maryland Governor

Headshot of ‘Crime Lab’ staff person

Thanks to CVILA’s leadership education, our graduates are primed to implement sustainable CVI solutions, paving the way for healthy, thriving communities.

Dr. Chico Tillmon

CVILA Executive Director

Program benefits

  • A 5-month CVI executive leadership development and management certifi­cate program.
  • 1 week per month of in-person learning; travel required.
  • Instruction delivered by university faculty, non-profit, public sector, and private sector leaders.
  • Learning alongside a national network of CVI leaders.
  • Access to mentors and executive coaches to guide your personal development and organizational growth.
  • Participation is free for those selected; the full cost of the program, including travel and tuition expenses, will be covered by the University of Chicago.

Eligibility

  • Minimum five years of experience in the field of CVI.
  • Currently hold a senior or executive-level position within a community-based CVI organization that serves Black and Brown Communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
  • While there is no minimum educational level requirement, candidates must demonstrate a high degree of motivation and interest in enhancing their leadership skills and the impact of their work.
  • Demonstrated experience implementing CVI strategies in alignment with the values and principles embraced by the CVI Academy.
  • Commitment of support from current place of employment. It is preferred that candidates come from an organization with an annual budget of at least $300,000 and a minimum of three employees.

Modules

  • Personal & Organizational Leadership
  • Strategic Decision Making
  • Building Healthy Communities
  • Community Engagement and Advocacy
  • Graduation + Capstone Presentations

View a gallery of photos from the inaugural cohort of the CVILA.

Map of participant locations for CVILA cohorts 1 and 2

Erica Ford, CEO and Founder of LIFE Camp and Pastor Michael McBride, Executive Director of Live Free USA speak at the CVILA launch event.
CVILA students attending their first day of class.
CVILA students attend an immersive experience at one of our partner sites.

Latest Updates

Crime Lab honored
Media Mention
The University of Chicago Magazine
May 2024

Crime Lab honored

At a February 9 White House ceremony, Vice President Kamala Harris honored the first graduates of the UChicago Crime Lab’s Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVILA), a six-month program that trains leaders to prevent and reduce gun violence in their communities.

Vice President Kamala Harris Recognizes the CVILA at White House Ceremony
Event
White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention
Feb 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris Recognizes the CVILA at White House Ceremony

On February 9, 2024 Vice President Kamala Harris recognized the work of the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVILA) at an event that will acknowledged the accomplishments of its inaugural cohort at the White House.

Exclusive: Biden White House readies week of events on combatting gun violence
Media Mention
USA Today
Feb 2024

Exclusive: Biden White House readies week of events on combatting gun violence

In this exclusive by USA Today, Joey Garrison writes about The White House recognizing this week as Community Violence Awareness Week and the planned series of events which culminate with a White House ceremony to honor the 31 graduates of the inaugural cohort from the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy.