What We Do
The Mission of the Center on Crime and Community Resilience (CCR) is to help disadvantaged communities by using research to support innovation of new policy solutions.
We structure our partnerships to build mutual success, and see our work as more than single engagements where we investigate a question and move on. Taking this broader view has meant many of our partners have worked with us repeatedly for as much as twenty years.
- Partner-driven exploration of existing data to understand the nature of problems and inform new policy innovations.
- Long-term partnerships with governments or non-profits to learn about, improve, and document the success of particular innovative practices.
We start all of our work from the perspective of our partners, since they already understand the most about making positive differences in communities. We measure our success by the fact that community groups, police departments, and governments all come back to work with us again, year after year.
We make sure that our research is always done at the highest standards: besides achieving the most accurate results possible, policymakers will only be convinced by research if the details of our scientific process are trustworthy. We work across many fields of research (including Criminology, Economics, Law, Psychology, Public Health, and Sociology) and use a variety of research methods, from randomized evaluations to qualitative analyses.
By aligning our interests to the needs of communities and policymakers, we ensure that our research has immediate relevance and impact. We prioritize research that has potential to transform communities by changing underlying conditions, such as the lack of safety and opportunity that keeps people in cycles of intergenerational poverty.
Many communities suffer from problems that cause sharp inequalities of opportunity: we have strong evidence that where individuals grow up directly influences their income, education, and likelihood of being involved in the criminal justice system, regardless of factors such as family history.
We believe that better policies can change the dynamics of communities and improve the prospects of vulnerable people in society. Unfortunately, many policymakers believe they have little choice but to stick with “tried and true” approaches that have failed to make significant progress, or have harsh negative consequences. Research is one way to convincingly demonstrate the potential of new ideas.
Government and nonprofit partners play a critical role in setting research agendas:
This ensures that the work produced by independent outside researchers will have a strong chance of translating into changes in policy and programs. We work with partners at every level to help them scope out their research priorities, and then work alongside them to gather data and conduct analyses on these priority questions. Wherever possible, we leave our partners better equipped to understand, access and use their data going forward.
Long-term partnerships with governments or non-profits to investigate innovative practices
We form our research partnerships with the goal of creating long-term change—we aren’t interesting in “proving” or “disproving” a program and then moving on. Forming a longer-term outlook allows us to work with governments and non-profits as they try new ideas and make progress over time. When a program doesn’t work as intended, we work with our partners to understand why and develop next steps that can lead to more success in future attempts. And, because we always use the most rigorous research tools available, when a program is working well it can be publicized, explored further, and expanded.
Most communities face threats and challenges to the lives of the people living in them—either short term negative events, or long-term adverse conditions. Community resilience refers to the strategies, connections and resources that communities can leverage to overcome their challenges.
Unfortunately, not all communities have the same level of resilience. Funding, government capability, and opportunities to innovate are often concentrated in the most affluent communities. Community resilience is often most needed in places that have some of the most pressing social challenges.
We emphasize community resilience in the name of our organization because it reflects our goals and values: the best policies are ones that assist and work with communities in developing their own strategies to overcome problems. A future of community resilience would have residents in every neighborhood supported in their safety, health, and pursuit of productive opportunity—not held back from success by stressors affecting the places where they happen to live.