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Choosing a clear and common purpose will help you act as a team, keep priorities in mind, and avoid wasting valuable time and resources. One way of creating a common purpose is to agree on what the youth violence problems are in your community. Or think about what you’d like to see in your community. For example, maybe your group wants to focus on creating safe neighborhoods for youth and their families.

“If you’re not clear on what that purpose is, then it’s really easy to get pulled into the different urgencies that come up.”

– Tania, Program Coordinator (Boston)

Review the options below and select the specific form of youth violence that your team will work to prevent. Later, this selection will help you choose strategies and decide what data to track. If your team does not feel ready to make a selection now, you can visit other sections like Using Data (in Our Community) to help you make your decision. You can also change the focus area later.

Finding Your Focus

Learn how other communities determined what their focus should be.

Transcript with Audio Descriptor


Although having a common purpose can help guide your team’s activities, there are many steps your group can take which can help you eventually create a common purpose. For instance, going to Using Data in the Our Community section will guide you through the process of gathering information about youth violence in your community. You can then use that information to begin to select prevention approaches and choose a more specific purpose.

Involve your larger community in this process. Attend community meetings, gather groups of people to talk, or take a more formal approach by organizing focus groups and developing surveys. However you decide to listen and learn, consider asking these questions to guide you toward a common team purpose:

• What do you see as the community’s challenges?

• Why should we address those challenges? What would happen if we didn’t address them?

• What are the community’s strengths?

• What would the community look like if youth violence were not an issue?

• What changes would you like to see in the next five or ten years?

Take the time to find out what your community wants to change and use that input to develop your team’s purpose. Residents are more likely to be receptive to your team’s work if they can see how you are using their suggestions.

Often when people first come together, there are different opinions about what the biggest youth violence problem is and how it can be solved. And there may be a lot of work your members want to do. This is okay. In order to make the most of your time and resources, it will help to have one common purpose. Having a common purpose will help you prioritize your activities. Using Data can help you agree on what the problem is, how severe it is, and where it is occurring.

That’s fine. There are many reasons why a group may change its purpose. For example, your understanding of the community situation might shift as you learn more about what’s happening in neighborhoods. Data may suggest a different form of violence is more of a problem in your community. Just make sure the change in purpose is meaningful and communicated to your entire team.

The next section, Geography, will help you select specific locations where you’ll focus your violence prevention efforts.