NIJ is seeking applications for the funding of research and program evaluation projects that
inform efforts to reduce street gang activity and violence in the United States. Gangs and gang
members are responsible for a large amount of crime and violence in many localities, and are
responsible for a disproportionate share in those communities most afflicted by crime and
violence. NIJ will support scientifically rigorous research and evaluation projects designed to
produce findings with high practical utility for gang prevention, intervention, enforcement, or
reentry strategies. This solicitation supports the U.S. Department of Justice’s priority to prevent
and reduce crime.
For decades, street gangs have posed a significant threat to public safety in the United States.
Communities suffer in innumerable ways from the violence, crime, and intimidation that gangs
bring. In many communities that experience high rates of crime, public resources are strained to
respond to gangs. Young and vulnerable populations in these communities are particularly atrisk
because they are targeted by gangs as potential new members or as victims.
Street gangs are responsible for a wide range of criminal activity and violence in the United
States. MW Klein famously characterized street gang offending patterns as “cafeteria-style
crime.” His description of this opportunistic approach continues to hold true. The National Gang
describes the breadth of criminal activity attributable to street gangs; the
most common forms include violent and drug-related crimes such as assault, street-level drug
trafficking, threats and intimidation, robbery, home invasions, homicide, weapons trafficking, and
sex trafficking. Emerging research is beginning to provide information on the role of gang
membership while in prison, whether membership involves a prison or street gang, to street
violence. Street gangs are also involved to a lesser extent in financial white-collar crimes, such
as identity theft, credit card fraud, counterfeiting, check fraud, money laundering, prescription
drug fraud, social security fraud, and tax fraud.
The observation that gang members, compared with others, are more extensively involved in
delinquency and criminal activity, especially serious and violent activity, has been described as
“perhaps the most robust and consistent observation in criminological research.”
members are not just more frequent perpetrators of crime and violence, they are also more
likely to become victims.6
Gang-involved females are at a particularly high risk for sexual
victimization, as well as other forms of violence. At the group level, higher levels of organization
within the gang are associated with increased involvement in drug sales, violent offending, and
Group norms that are common to many gangs influence both intragang
(between members of the same gang) violence (e.g., over violations of gang rules, through
initiations) and intergang (between gangs) violence (e.g., conflicts over turf, retaliation).
Intergang violence is fueled by norms related to reciprocity and retaliation, as well as by
proximity (e.g., sharing a turf boundary). These dynamics may combine to contribute to long
lasting, established patterns of violence between gangs within communities.
With this solicitation, NIJ seeks applications for the funding of research and program evaluation
projects that inform efforts to reduce street gang activity and violence in the United States. NIJ
will support scientifically rigorous research and evaluation projects designed to produce findings
with high practical utility for gang prevention, intervention, enforcement, or reentry strategies.
Projects should be designed to produce findings with relevance beyond the local level.