NOLA FOR LIFE: A Comprehensive Murder Reduction Strategy was developed by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, in collaboration with the Police Department, Health Department, other City departments, as well as agencies and community members across New Orleans. As a part of this effort, the Innovation Delivery Team engaged key national and local crime experts, community service providers, law enforcement and youth, as well as conducted a rigorous review of pertinent data. Promising initiatives were generated through a review of existing city and community-led efforts, best practice research and conversations with stakeholders.
NOLA FOR LIFE has utilized a public health approach to reducing violence since its launch in 2012. A central part of the public health approach to address violence is the socio-ecological model, which was adapted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This model takes into account the interplay between individual, relationship, community and societal factors:1
- Individual – Biological and personal history factors that increase the likelihood of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence, including age, behavioral control, substance use or history of abuse.
- Relationship – Close relationships, such as partners, social-circle peers and family.
- Community – The settings, such as schools or neighborhoods, in which social relationships occur and that may be associated with risk of violence.
- Societal – The broad societal factors, such as social and cultural norms, that help create a climate in which violence is encouraged or inhibited.
In order to prevent violence, it is necessary to direct efforts across multiple levels of the model at the same time. For example, if you only direct efforts toward the individual level, this person could still be at-risk for violence if their peers partake in violence or if violence is prevalent in their community.
Within these levels, public health focuses on risk factors – factors that contribute to violence – and protective factors – factors that are a buffer against violence. The CDC has identified 31 risk factors and 20 protective factors for youth violence. Example risk factors include involvement with gangs (relationship) and diminished economic opportunities (community), while example protective factors include academic achievement (individual) and connectedness to family (relationship).2 Reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors across individual, relationship, community and societal levels are likely to sustain violence prevention efforts over time.
In addition, we have sought initiatives that have been shown through scientific studies to impact these risk and protective factors. Programs and practices that have demonstrated significant and sustained effectiveness in rigorous scientific evaluations with large, diverse populations and multiple replications are likely to achieve success in New Orleans as well. In general, NOLA FOR LIFE has implemented initiatives that have documented evidence for effectiveness, while leaving some capacity for new and innovative strategies that are well-tailored to the challenges facing New Orleans.
The following 31 active initiatives and 9 completed initiatives have comprised NOLA FOR LIFE since its launch in May 2012. Overall, these initiatives have been designed to holistically reduce risk factors and increase protective factors in order to sustainably reduce murder in New Orleans.
NOLA FOR LIFE Hot Spots
When developing NOLA FOR LIFE, it was identified that a small number of New Orleans neighborhoods account for a disproportionally high amount of the violence. In 2011, 5 of the over 70 neighborhoods in New Orleans – Central City, Little Woods, St. Claude, St. Roch, and the Seventh Ward – accounted for 39% of the shooting victims and 37% of all murders. These neighborhoods were selected as “hot spot” neighborhoods, where additional focus and resources were prioritized to reduce violence where it is most prevalent. In response to changing violence patterns, hot spot neighborhoods were expanded to include the Behrman area of Algiers in 2014 and Treme in 2016. In 2015, these 7 neighborhoods had 20% fewer murders and 20% fewer shooting victims than in 2011 (the year before NOLA FOR LIFE started).
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The social-ecological model: A framework for prevention.
Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/overview/social-ecologicalmodel.html
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Violence: Risk and Protective Factors.
Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html
James Anderson – Head of Government Innovation Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies
No other city has showcased how to leverage an Innovation Team to take on big challenges quite like New Orleans. With NOLA FOR LIFE, the Innovation Team worked closely with partners inside and outside of government to conduct rigorous data analysis, develop innovative solutions, and relentlessly monitor progress to ensure impact – and the residents of New Orleans continue to benefit from their great work.
La June Montgomery Tabron – President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Through an extensive network of partners and programs, NOLA FOR LIFE is playing a significant role in addressing violence and trauma throughout the city and influencing the way the W.K. Kellogg Foundation thinks about its grant making in New Orleans. The Kellogg Foundation has made a long-term commitment to the city. We think comprehensively about all of the work we do in partnership to support the well-being of New Orleans’ children and families. For several years, grantee partners and community stakeholders would stress to us that we would not achieve the impact we sought from our investments in education, economic security and health without directly addressing how violence and trauma were affecting families’ daily lives.
The fact that Mayor Landrieu and his administration have advanced a comprehensive murder reduction strategy that targets not just the outcomes, but the root causes, is important to me as well as to the foundation. NOLA FOR LIFE has a broader scope than just policing. It’s about immediate and long-term solutions. It has mobilized a growing network of partners from multiple angles, bringing with them a set of resources, all working collaboratively to address and prevent violence in an effort to create a safe and thriving community for all citizens of New Orleans.
NOLA FOR LIFE is gaining momentum both structurally and in the community. The partnerships have built trust between entities, and the structures are working better together in the community. Families impacted by gun violence are becoming advocates against it. Children are learning healthy ways to cope with trauma and build resilience. Unemployed and low-skilled workers are accessing job training and earning living wage jobs. And with every life changed because of this work, New Orleans takes one more step forward in becoming the best version of itself – a child-centered city where all children and families can thrive. Click here to view my video testimonial.
Jim Mercy, Ph.D., Director – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Youth Violence Prevention
Homicide is the third leading cause of death for young people nationwide. African American youth are especially vulnerable to experiencing violence. The good news is that decades of research has shown us what works to prevent youth violence. New Orleans is investing in prevention and helping youth overcome social situations that put them at risk. Also, by rebuilding neighborhoods and promoting jobs and other economic opportunities, New Orleans is helping to ensure their young people thrive and that benefits the entire city.