Engaging Impacted Communities

In 2013, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund) identified the need to organize a diverse network of grassroots gun violence prevention advocates. In the course of our day-to-day work, we observed that many people living in the communities most impacted by gun violence — specifically communities of color — were not active participants in the policymaking process.

In response, we began working more deliberately to engage communities of color in our advocacy efforts. Over the last several years, we have developed an advocacy training workshop focused on impacted communities and helped organize a new network of community members dedicated to gun violence prevention.

Education to Action Workshops

The “Education to Action” or “Ed2Ac” advocacy training workshops are designed to involve African-Americans and other communities directly impacted by gun violence in the statewide policymaking process. Director of African-American and Community Outreach Kayla Hicks designed the workshop and has trained facilitators across Virginia in order to expand the program’s reach.

Ed2Ac workshops teach participants how to contact their elected officials, write letters to the editor, testify at legislative hearings, and organize media events to discuss the epidemic of gun violence, among other civic engagement strategies.

Workshops include an engaging participant toolkit, a facilitator’s guide, and group discussions. Through these workshops, we have reached hundreds of individuals – from teenagers to 85-year-olds. Thanks to our Ed2Ac program, we have much more robust participation in our movement from both African-American elected leaders and community members. We plan to expand the program to states across the country.

Download a Ed2Ac flyer here.

Download a Ed2Ac one-pager here.

Virginia Action Network

Building upon the connections developed during the Ed2Ac process, the Ed Fund has been instrumental in the development of the Virginia Action Network — a coalition of citizens, faith leaders, law enforcement, and elected officials engaging communities in reducing gun violence.

Our work with the Virginia Action Network is based upon the “Engaging Communities in Gun Violence Prevention” report. The report expands on the following observations:

  • Easy access to guns by a small group of high-risk people is a significant driver of violence.
  • Law enforcement tactics that diminish police/community relations harm public safety.
  • Social services that prevent violence are woefully underfunded.
  • Improving community engagement in violence prevention is an immediate opportunity for reform.

In order to address these areas of concern, the Virginia Action Network has created four working groups:

Policing – This group focuses on improving relations between law enforcement and communities of color.

Strengthening Communities –This group works towards implementing a pilot violence prevention initiative and creating a Homicide Review Commission in Virginia.

Gun Policy – This group focuses on reducing easy access to firearms for people at high risk of engaging in violence.

Millennial Engagement – This group focuses on promoting youth and young adult participation in reducing community gun violence.

Through our robust organizing efforts, the Ed Fund has successfully reached communities that have been underrepresented in our movement. Through Ed2Ac and the Virginia Action Network, the Ed Fund will continue to build and mobilize a diverse network of grassroots and grasstops advocates.

You can support our efforts to engage and mobilize impacted communities with a tax-deductible gift to the Ed Fund. Help us build a diverse coalition and advocate for policy change at the state and federal levels.

If you would like to help these efforts succeed and grow, please contribute.

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