White House highlights UChicago violence prevention research, announces $10 million in new funding

Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab work helps advance goals of President Obama’s 'My Brother’s Keeper' initiative

The White House recognized the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab on Monday for their efforts to prevent youth violence, and announced $10 million in new funding for anti-violence research and programming involving UChicago scholars.

The announcements were connected to a town hall meeting held at the Walter Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C., at which President Barack Obama announced more than $100 million in funding for the “My Brother’s Keeper” national initiative.

The $10 million for the Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab will support programs and research focused on improving schooling and reducing violence involvement among youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago.

The new funding includes $6 million from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health to the Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab, and $4 million provided by the Chicago Public Schools.

These resources will support an expansion of two promising interventions—Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) program and high-dosage academic remediation delivered by Match Education—to thousands of youth in the city of Chicago’s west and south sides. The new NICHD grant is also helping support the Crime Lab and the Urban Education Lab to study impacts on the long-term life outcomes of participating youth using the same randomized controlled trial methods that provide gold-standard evidence in medicine.

My Brother’s Keeper, announced by Obama earlier this year, is committed to finding and fostering solutions that help improve life opportunities for young men of color. As part of the foundation for that effort, the White House has cited evidence that Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab researchers have gathered on the effectiveness of the BAM and Match programs in Chicago.

A recent pilot study by the Urban Education Lab has shown that the combination of these programs can dramatically increase test scores, school attendance and chances of graduating from high school among program participants. Previous studies of BAM also have shown substantial reductions in arrests for violent crime among young people who participated.

“Our goal is to ensure that young people growing up in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods all across America have the best chance possible to succeed in school and avoid involvement with the criminal justice system,” said Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy in the School of Social Service Administration and the Harris School, as well as the director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and co-director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab. “To do that, we need to know how to take these programs to scale and maximize the amount of social good they can achieve per dollar spent. That is the ultimate objective of the work that will be supported by our new grant from the National Institutes of Health.”

“An important part of our institute’s mission is to ensure that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives,” said NICHD Director Alan E. Guttmacher. “Youth growing up in disadvantaged circumstances face particular challenges in achieving that full potential. So we welcome research on ways to navigate these challenges, to improve lifelong outcomes for all youth.”

The announcement includes a goal of expanding the BAM and Match programs beyond Chicago to three to five new cities over the next three years.

“We are heartened by the president’s leadership in this area and encouraged by the growing body of research suggesting that there are social programs that can and do work. Giving up on disadvantaged youth simply must not be an option,” said Roseanna Ander, executive director of the Crime Lab. “To that end, we are grateful for the support from NIH and for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s commitment to rigorously testing promising interventions and to expanding those that work.”

The president said the new funding commitments from foundations, private and public businesses and organizations from across the country will be used to help put boys and young men of color on the path to success.

“The Crime and Urban Education labs undertake the highest quality, multi-disciplinary research to guide policymakers and transform young people’s lives nationwide. I expect the work announced by the President Obama today will pay dividends for generations to come,” said Timothy Knowles, the John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute and co-director of the Urban Education Lab.

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BAM-Obama visit

On Feb. 15, 2013, President Barack Obama sat in on a Becoming a Man program roundtable at the Hyde Park Career Academy.

Photo by Pete Souza/White House

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