PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With incidents of gun violence in and near Providence on the rise, Brown University, the Rhode Island Foundation and the Partnership for Rhode Island made a joint $500,000 contribution to the Nonviolence Institute on Thursday, May 27.
Widely recognized as one of the most successful efforts in the state in preventing violent crime, the Nonviolence Institute is home to a street outreach team, whose members work every day in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls to understand the dynamics of violence, mediate emerging conflicts and support young people in making nonviolent choices.
The contribution from the three organizations follows surges in gun violence in 2020 — when the number of gunshot victims more than doubled in Providence during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic — and early 2021. Among other serious incidents this month alone, a shooting in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood injured nine individuals, more than any incident in Providence history, and (in a separate incident) 19-year-old Tatyana Francois was killed by gunfire as she sat in a car in Pawtucket.
Contributing to the institute’s work aligns with Brown’s mission of education, research and service to society, said President Christina H. Paxson. In addition to their scholarship, many faculty at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School and School of Public Health provide care to victims and their families in their roles as physicians.
Paxson noted that while efforts to reduce firearm injury focus importantly on policy and legislation proposals, the human side of public health plays just as much a role in the ability to make an impact.
“Gun violence is one of the most urgent public health crises we face today,” Paxson said. “Our collective ability to successfully reduce deaths and injuries will take collaboration across communities, data-informed policy and scholarship to test new solutions. Just as importantly, it takes direct, boots-on-the-ground intervention, and no organization has had a more powerful and positive impact in Rhode Island than the Nonviolence Institute.”
Leaders from all three organizations contributing to the Nonviolence Institute expressed the hope that the joint gift will inspire potential donations both large and small across the state to support the institute’s street outreach team, victim services work, and employment and education initiatives.
“We are pleased to join Brown University and the Partnership for Rhode Island in providing critical support to the Nonviolence Institute at this important time,” said Neil D. Steinberg, Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO. “Investing in their work will preserve the potential of a generation of young people facing challenges most of us can’t imagine. The Nonviolence Institute knows these neighborhoods, their residents and how to defuse the problems that lead to deadly violence. By supporting them, we’re investing in the future of families in our community.”
Tom Giordano, executive director of the Partnership for Rhode Island — a coalition of CEOs from the largest private sector and nonprofit employers in the state — said the group’s investment recognizes the importance of the institute’s work in addressing potentially violent situations with nonviolent solutions.
“Educated, healthy and safe communities are the bedrock of a growing city and a thriving economy,” Giordano said. “There is no more important investment than ensuring all Rhode Islanders live free of fear and abound with opportunities. The Partnership is thrilled to invest in the institute and their programs that have proven to lead to safer communities.”