- Department of Public Health
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Establishes Gun Violence Prevention Training Center for Excellence
Ann Scales, Director of Media Relations
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has awarded a two-year $700,000 grant to UTEC Inc. of Lowell to establish a Gun Violence Prevention Training Center for Excellence that will be the premier training facility in Massachusetts for addressing gun violence through both a public health and racial equity lens.
“Massachusetts’ approach to addressing gun violence is a model for the nation, and our administration is proud to support innovative efforts to address gun violence in our most at-risk neighborhoods,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new center will help us expand our support for the vital community organizations who are working every day to reduce gun violence among youth and young adults.”
The center will assist 10 community organizations that were recently funded to create gun violence prevention pilot programs in neighborhoods with higher rates of gun violence. The center will serve as an innovation hub for those organizations, helping them develop strategies that can be applied to their own communities and across Massachusetts.
“Our administration values the work of groups like UTEC and other community organizations who are working to reduce gun violence in the Commonwealth’s cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “By supporting this new facility, we can encourage the sharing of best practices as we work together to make the Commonwealth’s communities safer.”
``We are taking a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to reducing gun violence that supports individuals and communities most impacted by violence,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. ``This center provides an opportunity for creative solutions to be developed and implemented.”
The center will provide training to the 10 community organizations on key components of violence prevention: street outreach, comprehensive social needs assessments and referrals, mentoring, behavioral health services, workforce development, and community engagement and mobilization.
``The goal is for these organizations to work collaboratively, to share lessons learned, and leverage best practices for reducing gun violence among youth and young adults,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We look forward to hearing their ideas on what works best to reduce firearm-related injury and death at the community level.”
The Gun Violence Prevention Training Center for Excellence will be led by UTEC, Inc., a youth-serving agency based in Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill. UTEC was founded in 1999 by young people who started a teen center in response to gang violence in Lowell. Originally known as “United Teen Equality Center,” the agency became known as UTEC, Inc. and now serves youth, ages 17-25.
While Massachusetts has the lowest firearm death rate in the nation, gun violence is the leading cause of death for 17-24 years olds in the Commonwealth. In 2016, there were 245 firearm deaths in Massachusetts, of which just over a third were homicides. Over half of all victims of firearm-related injuries (55 percent) are between the ages of 15-24, and black youth ages 15-24 had 32 times the rate of hospitalizations due to a firearm assault compared to white youth.
The 10 organizations that were recently funded to address disparities in neighborhoods with higher rates of gun violence are:
- College Bound (Dorchester): $1,200,000.00
- Madison Park Development Corporation (Roxbury): $751,270.00
- More Than Words (South End Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan): $650,920.00
- Mothers for Justice and Equality (Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan): $556,360.00
- New North Citizens Council (Springfield): $800,000.00
- ROCA (Springfield): $800,000.00
- NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc. (New Bedford) $800,000.00
- Old Colony YMCA (Brockton): $850,000.00
- UTEC (Lawrence): $900,000.00
- Worcester Youth Center (Worcester): $800,000.00
Learn more about the Department of Public Health’s work to prevent youth violence.