Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr.


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The Challenge Against Violence is a month-long anti-violence campaign held each year in July. Thousands of volunteers from throughout the region come together in efforts that support peace in Northeast Rochester. The Challenge particularly aims at involving young people. In 1998, the campaign included activities which contribute to a non-violent environment including: Late-Night Basketball at which youths could enjoy a healthful supervised activity off the streets, meet positive adult role models, and learn peaceful dispute settlement skills while practicing good sportsmanship; dispute mediation; prayer vigils; and, street clean-ups.

2. When was the program created and why?

The anti-violence campaign began five years ago following a record year for murders, many of which occurred in Rochesterís Northeast area during July. The Challenge was organized by the volunteer Task Force to End Violence which took its charge from a 1991 report, "Community Mobilization Against Violence". This report stated that "individuals must be held accountable for violent crimes they commit, but the whole community must accept responsibility for erasing the conditions that promote violence." The Task Force is comprised of representatives of numerous organizations. It coordinates all anti-violence initiatives in the community.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

Making the entire community aware of the root causes of violence and involving the community in solutions.

4. How is the program financed?

The program is financed through City funds.

5. How is the community involved in the program?

Volunteers from throughout the region act as project managers and workers. The only paid staff is one city employee who devotes part-time to the Challenge.

6. What are the major lessons learned from this program?

(a.) a focus on youth, neighborhoods, and nonviolence will bring people together; (b.) most volunteers are suburbanites.

7. Contact person:

William Faucette

Mayorís Office


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The United States Conference of Mayors

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