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Building Blocks DC

About Building Blocks DC

Building Blocks DC, and its partnered Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center, is the first-of-its-kind in the country to address gun violence using a public health approach. Through Building Blocks DC, the Bowser Administration will first serve residents by focusing on the small number of individuals responsible for a significant percent of gun violence in the District. We are also co-creating places by also focusing on the small number of places where the most gun violence is occurring all while build sustainability the Emergency Operations Center which coordinates violence prevention efforts currently lead by District agencies, nonprofit partners, and community-lead efforts.

The core of Building Blocks DC is connecting residents to mental health services, stable housing, good paying jobs, education and other critical supports by meeting them where they are. Through a whole of government approach and in partnership with the District’s most impacted communities, Building Blocks DC is working aggressively to address the urgent needs of District residents.


A People- and Place-based Strategy

In the District, a very small number of persons are participating in violent and dangerous behaviors. Focusing energy and resources on this specific population will yield results. Building Blocks DC will work to engage residents who have been disconnected to services, supports, and opportunities and who are most at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of gun violence. Specifically we will engage with residents who:

  • Have been repeatedly arrested for gun-related offenses;
  • Are under active supervision by Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency or Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services;
  • Have been previously shot in the District, and;
  • Have experienced the ripple effects of gun violence.

Through the Emergency Operations Center, Building Blocks DC will learn a lot about the behaviors and needs of these focus persons and will work collaboratively with our agency partners and stakeholders to tailor individualized service delivery to this population. Through Building Blocks DC, we will meet them where they are with the goal of supporting them in their own positive transformation.

Using 2020 crime data, the Bowser Administration has identified 151 blocks that represent about 2% of all blocks in the city, but were the site of 41% of all gunshot-related crimes last year. This place-based strategy is a data-driven approach that uses a comprehensive block-by-block analysis to pinpoint specific areas where gun violence is a constant reality and the sounds of gunshots are a regular event.

Building Blocks DC analyzed this data based on violent offenses like homicides, robberies, and assaults where shots were fired and “sounds of gunshots” calls for service to 911. This resulted in the development of the 151 blocks in the city with the most amount of gun-related violence.


Building Blocks DC Grants

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention partnered with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and Progressive Life Center on the distribution of grants to community members engaged in efforts aimed at reducing gun violence in those neighborhoods most affected. 

There are two types of grants: 

  • $5,000 mini-grants will be awarded to individuals to create activities that engage residents, leaders, and organizations in promoting public safety.
  • $50,000 grants will be awarded to entities or organizations who will create innovative programs to reduce gun violence in the District of Columbia. The program should include one or more of the following: skill-building opportunities, neighborhood beautification/restoration, restorative justice support, family connectivity and empowerment, multidisciplinary arts activities, and community engagement. 

Learn more about the Buiding Blocks DC grant program here


Staff and Contact:

Linda Harllee-Harper, Director of Gun Violence Prevention
Building Blocks DC
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 533
Washington, DC 20004
[email protected]