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Hope amidst violence

Pastor Tracey Lee with a community member

While America’s cities reeled from the COVID-19 pandemic and were gripped by protests against racial injustice and police killings, yet another crisis struck our cities in 2020: gun violence. Although overall crime is trending down this year, shootings and homicides have spiked in cities throughout the summer, predominantly impacting people of color. In several American cities, the number of murders witnessed this year have already surpassed their 2019 levels, with months left to go. 

Still, there is hope. 

Across America, there are brave men and women who are risking their lives to “interrupt” violence before it begins, and invest in exactly the people most at risk of harm. There are gun violence prevention organizations who are bucking nationwide trends and reimagining public safety—often in partnership with law enforcement—to make sure our kids make it home each night. And there is a new generation of activists who refuse to accept that untimely death in their communities is a fact of life. 

Meet some of the inspiring voices who are battling gun violence in our cities today below,  learn about the causes of this tragic problem, and  commit to doing your part to help end it.


Inside the Life of A Violence Interrupter

During an especially grueling summer in Chicago, we spent a month capturing a glimpse of Pastor Tracey Lee’s day-to-day life as a violence interrupter, a pastor, and a supermom. Across several weeks, we witnessed the faith, love, and unyielding hope this young Black woman brought to her community in Englewood, as she worked to make our City safer.

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Billy Moore

An Old Wound, A New Chapter

When he was just 16, Billy Moore made a tragic mistake, taking the life of another young Chicagoan. After serving a 20-year sentence and losing his own son to gun violence, Billy is devoting his life to ensuring that other young men live lives of opportunity, rather than regret.

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Omaha 360 Photo with Ricky

Curbing Gun Violence in Omaha

To some, gun violence and broken trust between police and community members seem like problems that are simply too big to fix, but not to Willie Barney. Willie shares how his collaborative has used a holistic approach to reduce gun violence in Omaha and build stronger police-community relations.

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A Secondary Education

When Arne Duncan left his job as CEO of Chicago Public Schools in 2009 to serve as Secretary of Education, he thought he’d seen gun violence in the City at its worst. He was wrong. By founding the violence prevention organization, Chicago CRED, he’s attempting to overcome a collective failure that has haunted him for years, with promising results. Read about what he’s learned, what’s working—and what we all can do to help.

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“This is How We Fight Back”

To create lasting change in Chicago, the violence prevention organization Chicago CRED works with individuals most at risk, in the communities where gun violence is most concentrated. We had the chance to sit down with a few members of their team and their partners at the MAAFA Redemption Project to hear how they’ve been able to curb gun violence by investing in these young men.

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Getting Involved and Staying Engaged

In the Englewood neighborhood, Joseph Williams is also known as the “Black Mr. Rogers.” His community activism is rooted in helping fathers connect with their kids through literacy and maintain an active role in their lives. Recently, when a tense situation arose between community members and the police, Joseph stepped in to mediate—using the deep understanding of his community to advocate for a peaceful resolution. Watch his conversation with Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer at the Obama Foundation.

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Will Calloway

Showing Us What Matters

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Will Calloway became all too familiar with the disinvestment and systemic discrimination that create the conditions for gun violence to surface. But as Will saw more and more lives cut short, he was inspired to take action.

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Berto Aguayo

Increasing the Peace in Chicago

Berto Aguayo grew up in Back of the Yards, a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He’d always heard that to “make it” meant to “make it out of the hood.” To Berto, that didn’t sit right. He wanted to help bring his neighborhood the peace and resources its residents deserved.

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