As summer gets underway in earnest, the City of Madison is investing in violence prevention efforts across our community. We wanted to highlight for you how Madison is working to make our city safer this summer with data-informed policing, expanded youth employment opportunities and specific programming engage our young people in summer activities and summer fun.

Strategic Planning at MPD

At the request of Chief Barnes, I included funding for a new Police Reform and Innovation Director position in my 2022 budget, focused on using data-informed strategies for exemplary policing, police reform, reducing disparities, and violence prevention.

As the hiring process for that position continues, MPD has created a strategic summer plan for the second year in a row. This year all districts will focus on shots fired, stolen autos and hazardous driving. MPD will focus traffic enforcement on E. Washington Ave., Mineral Point Road and the Beltline as identified through Vision Zero – Madison’s data driven strategy towards eliminating traffic deaths and severe injuries on all roadways, bikeways and sidewalks. Data-driven, collaborative, strategically engaged resources in MPD are crucial to getting beyond reactionary responses and instead working proactively to make our community safer.

Isthmus Safety Initiative

Supported by a federal Byrne grant, we’re giving a special focus to downtown as a cultural and community gathering space and working to address violence concerns in the area. We’re working with UW-Madison to fund evidence-based solutions to make downtown more welcoming and safer for all through the Isthmus Safety Initiative.

Increasing Opportunities for Youth

Young people in Madison need quality programs run by people with whom they can build trusting relationships. This is particularly important now, given all the disruption to socialization, growth opportunities and employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help meet this need, the City is providing $1,576,908 – between ongoing youth employment contracts, youth leadership programming supported by ARPA funds and violence prevention dollars through Public Health Madison Dane County – to support community-based organizations that offer training, employment, internships, mentorship, education, leadership development and more.

Community-based organizations like Centro Hispano, Mentoring Positives, Common Wealth Development, Bayview Foundation, Mellowhood Foundation, Urban League, Boys and Girls Club, Operation Fresh Start and many more received funding to support programs for youth ages 14-21. More than 20 organizations running almost 30 programs are providing over 1,000 opportunities for youth to work, earn and learn.

Programs offer much needed face-to-face contact in a safe and supportive environment. The youth involved in these programs receive training and a paycheck, may sign up for work-based school credit in partnership with MMSD and may open a bank account and receive financial empowerment education in partnership with Summit Credit Union – all while talking with staff about their future plans.

A subset of these programs focus specifically on engaging at-risk youth in culturally responsive ways, led by trusted community leaders. The Transforming and Reaching Our Youth (TRY) program, created by Dr. Marcus Allen, will reengage youth ages 12-17 through mentorship, employment and educational opportunities. Dear Diary – a mentoring program for Black girls – aims to rewrite the broken narrative of Black girlhood and womanhood this summer for 11th & 12th graders by providing real-life work experience and training in various professional settings of their choice, exposing them to the power of their ambition while building their self-esteem. And Seein’ is Believin’ will conduct a summer outreach program dedicated to introducing youth to career, academic and personal leadership opportunities right in their backyards, focusing on young Black and Brown men ages 13-24.

Perhaps one of the best and easiest way for residents who want to be a part of helping create safe spaces for youth this summer is by checking out the Parks Alive initiative, which consists of 31 events, occurring in eight parks, across the City and will provide opportunities for residents to come together and build relationships. These events will empower community members with skills in conflict interruption, mediation and other violence prevention strategies.

Planning for Further Violence Prevention Efforts

We are engaging non-profit leaders in this work by making available $1,065,000 in funding via Public Health Madison & Dane County. This funding will go to agencies and organizations who help meet three specific goals outlined in the Roadmap to reducing Violence and put forth by the Madison Dane County Violence Prevention Coalition:

  • Community Engagement with Children, Youth, and Families: Investing in and creating more opportunities for children, youth and families to connect to community resources that promote healthy development and engagement.
  • Foster Strong Neighborhoods: Empowering communities by bringing together residents and community members, including government, to develop trust and working relationships.
  • Bolster and Increase Intervention and Continuous Healing for Those Affected by Violence: Cultivating community strengths, engaging culturally responsive services and creating strong coordination across services.

If you want to learn more about any of these activities, please reach out to my office at

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Category: Equity