JHU launches $6 million Innovation Fund for Community Safety

September 30, 2020

Dear Faculty, Students, Staff, and Neighbors:

In June, we wrote to you to express Johns Hopkins’ commitment to reimagining public safety in our communities. We believed then, as we do now, that this moment calls upon all of us who care deeply about Baltimore and its citizens to help reduce the continuing threat of violence that is hurting the communities of which we are a part, and to imagine alternatives for ensuring public safety that don’t rely on sworn policing.

It is in this spirit of seeking to pioneer successful and scalable approaches to violence reduction that we are announcing a Johns Hopkins–funded, community-based initiative to help develop new ideas and approaches for addressing this urgent need by tapping into the insight, creativity, and expertise of the community itself.

The JHU Innovation Fund for Community Safety is a $6 million, four-year fund to fuel projects created and led by community members and community organizations that are designed to improve community safety and reduce violence in the near term and to support research, in partnership with community organizations, to inform and assess the impact of these efforts.

We know that there is no simple or easy solution for ensuring the safety of every member of the Baltimore community. We also know that far too many neighborhoods are experiencing high levels of violent crime, including the recent spike in shootings, which threaten residents’ safety and diminish their quality of life and ability to flourish.

When the university announced a two-year pause on the implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department, we committed to identifying and supporting community-led approaches to improving public safety while at the same time reducing the reliance on sworn policing in order to address the urgent and immediate need to ensure the safety of all members of our communities.

Through the Innovation Fund for Community Safety, we hope to help advance the community’s own ideas for improving public safety—ideas that are rooted in community partnerships and will be implemented by community residents—with Johns Hopkins as an active partner, offering technical assistance, data insights and analysis, research, and financial support. Even as we continue to invest in health care, education, housing, and economic opportunity for our city’s residents, we believe the Innovation Fund for Community Safety can play an important role in supporting local solutions—some big and complex, others targeted and straightforward—to spark immediate or near-term improvements in public safety, explore what will work at scale across our city, and build momentum for change.

To get us started, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Office of Economic Development will be hosting a series of listening sessions to solicit ideas and dialogue on reducing violence. These conversations will help shape a draft of the call for proposals to be supported by the Innovation Fund and serve to bring potential collaborators together. The draft call for proposals will then be shared publicly for comment with the goal to post a final version in early December and to announce the selected projects early in the new year.

The selection committee for the fund will be composed of people from the Baltimore community and Johns Hopkins, and there will be a call for nominations to serve on that committee later this fall.

As always, this initiative will only succeed with your engagement and input. For additional information and to offer your thoughts or share feedback, please the Innovation Fund website.

We thank you for your support of this important initiative and for helping to advance this work on behalf of all who care deeply about our city.

Sincerely,

Ronald J. Daniels
President

Ellen J. MacKenzie
Dean, Bloomberg School of Public Health