Candace Reese Walters
Public Information Officer III
Department of Violence Prevention
Chief Operating Officer
Oakland, CA – The City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) is receiving much-needed funding to support its violence interruption efforts. In partnership with the Oakland Public Fund for Innovation, the Gilead Foundation, through the Gilead Foundation’s Creating Possible Fund™, has awarded a 3-year grant to invest in health equity strategy, including a focus on prevention and intervention services to school-age youth, disrupting the pattern of violence.
“We are so grateful to Gilead and the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation for supporting the vital work of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. A health equity strategy that focuses on school-age youth can pay dividends for an entire generation. Too many Oaklanders suffer the trauma of violence, and so healing this trauma and disrupting this cycle is critical work,” said Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf.
Although the Department of Violence Prevention works to advance community outreach with life coaching, gender-based violence services, violence interruption, and community healing, this funding is focused on the family systems model, targeted specifically, at Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools, for school-site violence intervention and prevention teams. Students who are routinely exposed to violence, at home or in the community, often experience toxic stress that leads to cognitive impairment, hyperactivity, and attention deficits that make it challenging to succeed in the classroom. Exposure to violence also contributes to lower school attendance and a higher likelihood of suspension, which further promotes disengagement from school. Using a public health approach, the DVP will strengthen family, school, and community contexts for OUSD school students living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence, to reduce their exposure to violence and increase their chances of succeeding academically.
“The Gilead Foundation is proud to support the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation and the City of Oakland's Department of Violence Prevention,” said Kate Wilson, Executive Director, Gilead Foundation. “We understand that violence is a public health issue that many of our schools and young people face daily. Through the Gilead Foundation’s Creating Possible Fund™, we look forward to helping lead the way by investing in equitable solutions that will have real impact and help heal our communities."
Chief of Violence Prevention with the City of Oakland, Guillermo Cespedes, further states, “The generosity of the Gilead Foundation will allow the DVP to strengthen families and protect its members from becoming involved in lifestyles associated with violence, while increasing educational outcomes and lifelong learning skills.”
The following DVP strategies include:
1. Engage 80 families of OUSD students who are at high risk for violence victimization or perpetration in six months of coaching, educational sessions, and resource provision designed to improve the family’s ability to protect its members from violence. Families will practice constructive ways of problem-solving, communicating, and making decisions that they are able to apply to any problem the family needs to address, including exposure to violence, chronic absenteeism, or suspension.
2. Host Town Nights community events on six consecutive Friday evenings at eight locations across Oakland that serve students and families from the targeted OUSD schools during Summer 2023, Summer 2024, and Summer 2025. Town Nights is a multi-generational approach to violence prevention that involves hosting community events during hours and days when violence is likely to increase for the purpose of engaging families in prosocial activities during high-crime hours, building community cohesion as a protective factor against future violence, and engaging group-involved individuals in mediation discussions that result in reductions in future violence.
3. Implement a violence prevention and intervention awareness media campaign at OUSD school sites and during Town Nights events. Campaign messaging will focus on the following: (1) emotional, cognitive, and physical effects of violence on victims; (2) signs of victimization; (3) available prevention and intervention resources in Oakland; (4) non-violent responses to violence; and (5) cultural misconceptions and unhealthy behaviors related to violence.
"The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation is proud to be in partnership with the Gilead Foundation and with the City of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. We deeply believe in a holistic, public health approach to helping our most vulnerable young people and communities heal from violence,” commented Juma Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation
About the Oakland Fund for Public Innovation
The Oakland Fund reaches across the city, engaging private partners to innovate, test and scale ideas that enhance Oakland. The Fund strives to improve the prosperity, safety, and quality of life for all Oaklanders with projects that:
· Build a more trustworthy and responsive government
· Allow Oaklanders to stay rooted and thrive in our city
· Create a more vibrant and connected Oakland for all who live, work and play here.
About the Gilead Foundation
The Gilead Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization endowed by Gilead Sciences, Inc. The Gilead Foundation, originally established in 2005 and reendowed in 2021, envisions health prosperity for all by seeking to address the social determinants of health, with an emphasis on education equity. The Gilead Foundation’s mission is to create spheres of impact – in the company, in the community, in society – by encouraging a culture of giving and volunteering and exploring innovative approaches to complex social issues.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) launched the Gilead Foundation’s Creating Possible Fund™ to support creative and high-impact strategies that advance health through education equity. The work of the grantees aims to help increase social connections for underserved students, improve the school and learning environment, and create systems of support for students to thrive. Gilead has a broad and long-standing commitment to advancing global health equity, which it regards as critical to improving health outcomes for all. The company’s health equity strategy focuses on collaborating with organizations that reach underrepresented communities.
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