Four community organizations in south-central Pennsylvania are teaming up with the national non-profit Urban Rural Action to launch Uniting to Prevent Targeted Violence, an 18-month program to build new relationships across divides, implement projects that reduce risks of targeted violence, and raise community members’ awareness of targeted violence. The participating organizations are CONTACT Helpline, Just for Today Recovery & Veteran’s Support Services, Mediation Services of Adams County, and Suicide Prevention of York.
UR Action defines targeted violence as intentional physical violence against a pre-identified target based on their perceived identity or affiliation, whereby the act is intended to intimidate or coerce or generate publicity about the perpetrator’s grievance. Examples include hate-motivated mass killings and premeditated violence against political adversaries.
“We are excited to advance locally-led efforts that address risk factors for radicalization to violence,” said Logan Grubb, the Hummelstown-based chief of staff for United to Prevent Targeted Violence. “This program will achieve meaningful impact due to UR Action’s trusting local relationships, credibility across the ideological spectrum, and application of learning from years of strengthening community resilience.”
Urban Rural Action is administering a public application process to form a cohort of 28 Pennsylvania Uniters in four south-central PA counties: Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, and York. The cohort will intentionally include people with different political views, racial identities, and age ranges.
“Working together to prevent targeted violence takes what I have devoted my adult life to, using mediation to help people learn to be active listeners, to the next level,” said Patti Robinson of Mediation Services of Adams County. “We can use the skills of the community to heal deep pain that is turned against one another.”
The Uniters in each county will design and implement a targeted violence prevention project with one of the four community partners. The projects will address risk factors for targeted violence identified by the group, and advance a goal of the partner organization. A budget of $10,000 will support each project.
“I want to help make it O.K. to talk about mental health without stigma and violence,” said Cindy Richard, Founder and President of Suicide Prevention of York. “Rather than our community defining a person by their mental health, we need to promote prevention through education, intervention services, and postvention services for survivors.”
UPTV will kick off in Gettysburg on February 18, 2023 and run through August 2024. During each phase, the cohort of Uniters will gather in person for relationship-building, dialogue, analysis of targeted violence, and the implementation of their targeted violence prevention project.
“We are very divided in Pennsylvania and across our country,” said Chad Collie, the Adams County Program Coordinator for UPTV. “It’s up to us whether or not we stay that way. This program is an opportunity for us to overcome some of our divisions and help address a problem that impacts everyone.”
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. TVTP works to help prevent incidents of domestic violent extremism, as well as to bolster efforts to counter online radicalization and mobilization to violence.
Interested community members can apply by December 16, 2022 through a two-step process on the UR Action website.