The Violence Intervention Project (VIP)

The Violence Intervention Project (VIP)

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Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Violence Intervention Project is based on a youth engagement model which provides youth with the opportunity and capacity to effect positive change in their communities, and is based on a best practice approach that incorporates skill development and experiential learning.

About You
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Your idea
Year the initative began (yyyy)

1997

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:
Innovation
Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.

The Violence Intervention Project is based on a youth engagement model which provides youth with the opportunity and capacity to effect positive change in their communities, and is based on a best practice approach that incorporates skill development and experiential learning.

What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?

The Violence Intervention Project differs from other youth violence prevention models in that it is a youth led program. Youth participate in all aspects of the VIP, from delivering violence prevention workshops for other youth, conducting safety needs assessments and website development, to participation on the Project Advisory Committee.
Another key element of the VIP which is unique is that it is an evidence-based model of violence prevention. Meaning it is grounded in research that indicates successful and effective strategies for violence prevention.

The focus is on developing skills in the areas of problem solving, conflict resolution, communication, public speaking, negotiation, assertiveness and decision making. Youth are encouraged to take leadership in developing violence prevention projects within their school or local community. The program aims to change the perceptions youth have of themselves through knowledge, engagement, skill development and involvement in pro-social activities.

The goal of the Violence Intervention Project is to reduce youth violence by engaging and mobilizing marginalized youth in creating safer schools and communities through training, skill development and civic participation.

Describe how you organize and carry out your work?

The Violence Prevention Project provides a wide range of services to schools, community centres, youth shelters and other youth-serving organizations. These services include youth-led violence prevention workshops on topics such as Bullying, Gang Violence, Health Relationships, Dating Violence, Diversity (including Anti-Racism and Homophobia), Anger Management, Gender and Violence, etc. Additionally, VIP staff and youth participants organize and host anti-violence forum and conferences. Project staff also provide violence prevention consultation services to youth-serving organizations and are available for staff training.

What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?

The need for the VIP program is evident in the growing demand for services that we are bombarded with. It is our hope to continue to grow and expand in order to meet the growing needs of the communities that we serve.

Unfortunately, financial obstacles are always a reality in a not-for-profit program.

What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?
Impact
Describe your impact in one sentence, commenting on both the individual and community levels.

Thousands of youth from schools, youth shelters, probation officers and community centres have benefited from violence prevention training or educational forums offered by the Violence Intervention Project.

What impact has your work achieved to date?
Number of individuals served

Workshops were delivered to over 3,500 young people last year and training was provided for over 150 professionals who work with young people.

Community impact

The most effective element of the Violence Intervention Project is our youth workshop facilitators share their experiences with other youth and brainstorm solutions together and promote peaceful communities.

Society at large
What measure do you use to gauge your impact and why?
Sustainability
How is your initiative currently being financed and how would you finance further expansion and/or replication?

The VIP is a not-for-profit program. Workshops or other interventions directly for young people are of no cost. We focus much of our resources within several underserved communities in Scarborough Ontario, and no fees are attached to these services.

It is a not-for-profit program. The program is financed through a few streams, The United Way of Greater Toronto provides funds for staff and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services provides funds for staff. We have generous donors including the Police Services, the Toronto Argos, the Toronto Raptors, and a number of private businesses.

Our main financial challenges revolve around the fact that project funding is a reality for many social service agencies. They are given a specific amount of money which is meant to be used for a specific purpose and a specific amount of time. What happens is that regardless of how successful the program is, the money ends, the youth most go elsewhere and good staff are unemployed. A high turnover rate hurts programs because there is no consistency.

An ideal investor is one that shares our passion for helping youth, who believes that they are experts in their own lives and deserve the opportunity to create change and do great things in the name of violence prevention.

Provide information on your current finances and organization:
Who are your potential partners and allies?

The VIP is fortunate to have several partners, these include the School Boards, the Police Services, the Toronto Argos, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and several youth-serving organizations in the community.

Who are your potential investors?
The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

Ten years ago, a group of young people entered the office of a community based mental health agency named East Metro Youth Services. These youth were tired of the relentless violence within their community and demanded to know what they could do about it! One of the staff, Leigh Moore, took the time to listen to these young people and encouraged them to strategize some solutions. Utilizing their own voices and the passion and drive of caring professionals, the Violence Intervention Project was born.

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