IMPACT GNV: City of Gainesville’s new strategy to reduce gun violence

Published on May 02, 2024


The City of Gainesville is launching a community-based engagement strategy called IMPACT GNV as the next step in citywide efforts to prevent gun violence. The new initiative will connect neighbors experiencing on-the-ground needs with city and community resources that can help. The goal is to leverage valuable communitywide collaborations to maximize the program’s impact.

IMPACT GNV was developed under the direction of Gainesville City Manager Cynthia W. Curry in accordance with the policy direction set by the Gainesville City Commission. Administered by Community Health Director Brandy Stone and Gun Violence Intervention Program Manager Brittany Coleman, the initiative pulls a number of programs under a unified banner. It also moves quickly to put boots on the ground, working with neighborhoods, schools, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, grassroots advocates and formerly justice-involved individuals, among other partners.

Anchoring these efforts are two key collaborations designed to extend city efforts into the broader community. To maximize and leverage resources, four staff members of B.O.L.D. (Brave, Overt Leaders of Distinction), previously housed within the Gainesville Police Department, will provide support to gun-violence prevention and intervention efforts. They will serve on special assignment under Gainesville Fire Rescue Chief Joe Dixon in his role as special advisor to the city manager on matters of public health and public safety.

The second collaboration is a partnership with the Willie Mae Stokes Community Center, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that serves the youth of Alachua County, Gainesville and surrounding communities through community events, outreach and mentoring programs.

“We are pleased to announce the city is entering a contract that will enable the center, led by Bishop Christopher Stokes, to build a new network of Violence Interrupter Partners,” said City Manager Curry. “With more than two decades engaging young people through community outreach and mentoring programs, Bishop Stokes is uniquely qualified to work with us as we reduce violence through these targeted strategies.”

IMPACT GNV is partially funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Staff will pursue grants to support gun violence prevention and intervention programs.

Improve Access to mental health services, social support, and the arts

Mobilize and enhance existing community-based services and groups

Prioritize public health and safety efforts in areas most impacted by gun violence

Analyze gun violence data

Center youth

Track progress

IMPACT GNV efforts underway:

  • Engaging stakeholders in Gun Violence Prevention Month in June
  • Developing a gun-violence-awareness social media and messaging campaign
  • Exploring grant-funding opportunities
  • Taking next steps to establish the Community Gun Violence Prevention Alliance approved by the Gainesville City Commission, Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and Santa Fe College Board of Trustees
  • Hosting crisis intervention and de-escalation workshops for community members and health and social service providers in partnership with the Alachua County Crisis Center

B.O.L.D. (Brave, Overt Leaders of Distinction)

The B.O.L.D. program is poised to provide support to gun-violence prevention and intervention efforts, as well as partner with the Gainesville Fire Rescue Community Resource Paramedicine program to work with neighbors to more efficiently facilitate access to healthcare, housing, transportation and other needs.

Violence Interrupter Partners (VIP)

The Willie Mae Stokes Center will work with the City of Gainesville in the creation of a community network of Violence Interrupter Partners. This network will extend into schools, after-school programs, churches, and groups connected to advocacy for reform of justice-involved individuals. It will create an interconnected framework that utilizes prevention and intervention strategies to interrupt violence and provide for positive and supportive structures and programs across the community.

IMPACT GNV additional program components:

Community Care Callouts (CCC)

This collaboration between Gainesville Fire Rescue, the Gainesville Police Department, and other community agencies will continue building and refining the immediate response solution that has been utilized in neighborhoods including Sweetwater Square and Lincoln Estates. This effort offers support services, trauma-informed outreach and public safety information in the wake of events that involve gun violence.    

One Nation One Project (ONOP)

One Nation One Project is a national initiative, including Gainesville and 17 other U.S. cities, using the arts and culture to promote community healing and well-being. This project unites artists, local governments and community health providers. In January 2022, the Gainesville City Commission recognized youth gun violence as a local issue of great concern and chose to allocate two-percent of Gainesville’s ARPA funds to this effort—almost $650,000. The next major ONOP milestone is the July 27, 2024 National Community Culminating Event, produced by ONOP Artistic Director Marion J. Caffey, Gainesville native and producer of Amateur Night at the Apollo, the longest-running talent competition in American history.

Positive Engagement to Guide Young People

Mirror Image Leadership Academy Gala Co-Presenting Sponsorship - $10,000

The City of Gainesville serves as co-presenting sponsor for the official gala celebrating the graduation of the first cohort of young scholars to complete the three-year program at Mirror Image Leadership Academy (MILA). The ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2024, marks the success of this leadership discovery experience for incoming seventh graders. Primarily targeting African American students, the academy’s comprehensive curriculum comprises a School Year Academy, an Extended Day After-school Program, and a Summer Academy featuring local, national, and international travel opportunities that in 2023 brought these inaugural scholars on a journey to Ghana. Each year, MILA is committed to expanding young minds through exposure to diverse people, places, and ideas.

P.A.V.E. (People Against Violence Enterprises) – est. $60,000 since 2000

P.A.V.E. is an organization dedicated to paving the way for a more peaceful community for our youth. Founded by Rev. Karl Anderson, a Senior Pastor of Upper Room Ministries, P.A.V.E. was established in August 2000 in response to news reports of violence in the schools. In the nearly 25 years since, the group has hosted many events to promote violence prevention education and mediation. In addition, P.A.V.E. and primary sponsor Meridian Behavioral Healthcare have distributed approximately 50,000 backpacks as part of a communitywide “Back to School” rally promoting student health and safety. Since its inception, the City of Gainesville has annually assisted these efforts with funding support. With recent funding through the American Rescue Plan Act Violence Intervention project in the amount of $20,000, the total level of City support is an estimated $60,000.

"Class of Her Own" Documentary Film Screening

(Co-Sponsored with Alachua County Public Schools)

A critically acclaimed documentary about a highly innovative teacher from east Gainesville will anchor the Journey to Juneteenth Film Festival at 6 p.m. Sat., June 8 at the A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center. Brought to Gainesville for a community screening through a partnership between the City of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Alachua County Public Schools, “Class of Her Own” tells the story of Duval Elementary teacher Gloria Jean Merriex’s reinvention of her school’s curriculum to draw on the power of hip-hop, dance, and call-and-response to teach reading and math.

Coordination with Federal Gun Violence Prevention Efforts

In September 2023, President Joe Biden established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to implement and expand upon key executive and legislative actions taken to save lives. The Office of Gun Violence Prevention is overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been a key leader in the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic.

  • District 3 Commissioner Casey Willits met with staff from the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Dec. 1, 2023. The Commissioner shared materials from the City of Gainesville’s Gun Violence Prevention Summit and discussed grant programs.
  • Mayor Harvey Ward met with staff from the White House Office of Public Engagement on Feb. 7, 2024 to discuss a number of issues including gun violence.
  • Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Moore Chestnut met with United States Representative Maxwell Frost (D-Orlando), the Vice Chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, on March 12, 2024; they discussed gun violence among other issues.
  • Government Affairs and Community Relations Director John Alexander and Legislative Affairs Coordinator Dr. Thomas Harrington met with United States Department of Justice staff on March 13, 2024 to discuss gun violence and other funding opportunities.