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The Violence Prevention Initiative (or VPI) was the first major grantmaking program developed by the California Wellness Foundation. At the time it was launched in late 1992, rates of youth violence were rising and sensationalistic press coverage contributed to a public sense that “get tough” measures were the solution. Our state was in the midst of an unprecedented prisonbuilding boom, with a growing share of public funds being dedicated to incarceration, at the expense of traditional probation/early intervention programs for young offenders. Few in the policy world identified youth violence as a public health issue, let alone saw it as something that might be preventable.

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