Community

Spectrum Health pledges financial support  to bring Cure Violence to Grand Rapids

April 23, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Spectrum Health System is backing the implementation of an evidence-based violence reduction and intervention program proposed in Grand Rapids. In acknowledging that violence in the community is a public health crisis, the West Michigan-based not-for-profit health system has pledged substantial financial support to bring Cure Violence Global (Cure Violence) mid-summer to Grand Rapids. Spectrum Health is the first community partner to pledge its financial support of Cure Violence, an evidence-based  program shown to significantly reduce violence in communities.

On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission will consider approval of a contract with Cure Violence Global. The agreement would allow for training, technical assistance, and implementation of the Cure Violence model in Grand Rapids as officials with Spectrum Health and the City encourage this unique health approach to violence interruption and prevention.

In recent years, the City of Grand Rapids experienced significant increases in violent crime. In 2020, Grand Rapids experienced a 21.7% increase in aggravated assaults and a 92.9% increase in homicides. To date, 2021 shows an 11.9% increase in aggravated assaults and 19.4% increase in robberies; however, the city is experiencing a 71.4% reduction in homicides and a 20.9% reduction in burglaries.

To curb the rise in violence using the same health strategies employed to fight epidemics, the City looked to evidence-based violence reduction and intervention programs such as Cure Violence. Recently, a team of internal and external stakeholders evaluated multiple strategies and determined that, based on its proven methods and track record, the Cure Violence model was best suited to address the needs of Grand Rapidians.

If it approves the contract Tuesday, the City will contribute $75,000 towards the first year of the operation of Cure Violence. The City has also committed to continue its investment for two additional years. Spectrum Health also will partner with the City in supporting this public health approach to violence reduction and intervention by providing support in the amount of $300,000.

“Our mission is to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. We understand the need to do more for communities that for too long have experienced health inequities,” said Spectrum Health President & CEO Tina Freese Decker.  “By investing in an evidence-based public health model of crime prevention, we are helping create safer neighborhoods that support residents’ aspirations for a healthier life. This investment of $300,000 is part of our commitment made in 2020 to allocate $100 million over 10 years to address health equity.”

Cure Violence Global will assist the City with recruiting and selecting a community-based partner to implement the Cure Violence model. The City’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability in May is expected to issue a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) for those services. The RFP will help the City identify a community partner to serve as the lead implementing agency to help administer Cure Violence.

“We appreciate Spectrum Health’s commitment to this initiative and to this community,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “Helping to curb violence is everyone’s responsibility and we thank Spectrum Health for stepping up to help us improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in Grand Rapids through this violence interruption and prevention program.”

Under the contract, Cure Violence will help interview and select the best candidates to serve as Cure Violence front line staff and interact with members of the community, provide “onboarding training” for staff and management, and facilitate Violence Interruption and Reduction Training (VIRT) for outreach workers and violence interrupters. Other training offered could include such topics as Risk Reduction Planning, Using Data to Leverage Program Implementation, Using Data to Evaluate Success or Opportunities, Leading with Equity, Spokesperson Training and Addressing Trauma.

According to Brandon Davis, director of the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability, the ideal partner will have strong community ties and a demonstrated presence within Grand Rapids neighborhoods. The agency also will utilize individuals that have influence with those at highest risk of committing shootings or perpetuating other violent acts by building trusting relationships with individuals who are most likely to impacted by violence in the community, due to their own lived experiences.

“Cure Violence will tailor its evidence-based violence reduction and intervention model to the needs of our residents,” Davis said. “This agreement and the generous contribution from Spectrum Health will help us fulfill our commitment to make Grand Rapids a place where all people feel safe and are safe at all times in our community.”

The Cure Violence theory of change utilizes carefully selected and trained workers — trusted members of the communities it serves — to interrupt the contagion using a three-prong approach:

  • Detecting and interrupting the transmission of violence – anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts.
  • Changing the behavior of the highest potential transmitters – identify those at highest risk for violence and work to change their behavior.
  • Changing community norms – influence social norms to discourage the use of violence.

Cure Violence has proven successful in many other cities, achieving 37% to 50% reductions in gun injuries in two New York City communities, 30% reduction in shootings in Philadelphia, 56% reduction in killings and 34% in shooting in one Baltimore community, 43% to 73% reductions in shootings in seven Chicago communities and more. For more information on Cure Violence, CLICK HERE.

Studies highlight that reducing violence among youth and particularly Black youth, who are at substantially higher risk, is essential to improving health of Blacks in the United States.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.

Contact:
Tim Hawkins
Media Relations
Office: 616.486.6091
Mobile: 616.443.0361
Email: timothy.hawkins@spectrumhealth.org