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UCR Presley Center receives $1.2 million for youth violence prevention research

UCR Presley Center receives $1.2 million for youth violence prevention research

(October 10, 2000)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of California, Riverside to research the causes of youth violence, and to create and put in use community programs to prevent it.

The three-year grant makes UCR one of 10 national Academic Centers for Excellence on Youth Violence. It supports a center focused on creating, implementing and evaluating youth violence prevention programs and training health care professionals and community groups. The CDC grant-funded efforts will benefit youth in Riverside, the Inland Empire, and Southern California. CDC officials announced the award on Sept. 27.

UCR Psychology Professor Nancy G. Guerra, associate director of the Presley Center, led the effort to secure the grant with UCR Sociology Professors Kirk R. Williams and Robert Nash Parker.

Parker, director of the Presley Center, said the project will, "foster greater cooperation among a number of universities and community agencies concerned with youth violence in Southern California."

Scholars at the UCR center will conduct cooperative research and educational projects with colleagues at UCLA; UC Santa Barbara; UC Irvine; USC; and California State University, San Marcos.

"This award gives us the opportunity to work with a number of leading experts in youth violence research at the cooperative campuses in order to develop new ideas and a comprehensive framework that scholars, practitioners, and policy makers alike can use to understand and prevent youth violence in our communities," Guerra said.

Part of every activity at the UCR center will be a commitment to cultural and ethnic diversity and the impact these factors have on youth violence and violence prevention, Guerra said.

The grant supports Presley Center scholars' work with the USC Department of Family Medicine and the School of Public Health at UCLA to develop and use training procedures for health care providers. Such training will help these professionals recognize the signs potential violence in young clients and allow them to more effectively intervene to prevent destructive behavior.

Guerra, Williams and Parker will supervise a youth violence prevention pre-doctoral training program and develop an internship for UCR undergraduates. In addition, Williams will work with community agencies throughout the Inland Empire to develop a strategic plan for youth violence prevention which takes advantage of the research resulting from the funding provided by the CDC.

"This project will allow UCR to help local agencies develop more cost effective programs for youth violence prevention," Williams said.

UCR Chancellor Raymond Orbach underscored the importance of the bringing research and development from UCR to the agencies that address the problem of youth violence in Riverside and the Inland Empire. "The Presley Center…has been successful in working with these same organizations to develop and implement research and evaluation programs designed to empower the community to prevent youth violence," he said in a letter of support.

Patricia O'Brien, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at UCR, also supported the effort. "[This project]…has important potentials for the advancement of both scientific understanding and community-based action to prevent youth violence," she said in her letter of support.

Similar centers will be established at Virginia Commonwealth University, UC San Diego, the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Michigan.

Five other universities, with established youth violence expertise, will receive CDC funding for more comprehensive centers. They are: Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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