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Research and Evaluation on Gangs and Gang Violence

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, Agencies, IHEs,
and Individuals for Research on Gang-Related Crime

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Funding Source:

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U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

Deadline Date:

04/24/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, IHEs, and certain qualified individuals for research to improve efforts to address street gang violence and activity. Applicants are advised to create or verify the required registrations well in advance of the proposal deadline.


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.

Program-Specific Information:

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 at- risk 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 Intelligence Center 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.” Gang members are not just more frequent perpetrators of crime and violence, they are also more likely to become victims. 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 violent victimization. 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. While NIJ will consider all applications that address these more general purposes, NIJ is particularly interested in applications in the following three areas:

Rigorous Evaluations of Well-Developed Anti-Gang Programs – Although many anti-gang programs and strategies have been developed and implemented in communities across the nation, few of these programs have been carefully evaluated and even fewer have demonstrated strong evidence of effectiveness. NIJ’s website profiles a number of gang programs that have been subjected to scientific evaluations. A number of these profiles represent variations on just two approaches (i.e., lever-pulling/focused deterrence and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Comprehensive Gang Model). There is a strong need for more program evaluations and more rigorous program evaluations that improve the quality and quantity of evidence-based programs in this area.

In addition to proposing an evaluation project, applicants should describe how the proposed evaluation will advance the overall body of evidence related to anti-gang programs and practices. Applicants are encouraged to propose randomized evaluation designs, where it is possible and appropriate to do so. If that is not possible or appropriate, applicants should propose the most rigorous and appropriate design to produce high-quality causal evidence.

NIJ will only fund projects that evaluate well-developed programs. Applications should include, and append supplementary materials as necessary to describe, the level of program development. Supplementary materials may include copies or links to logic models, program guides and materials, policies and procedures, manuals, prior evaluation findings, program staffing, and funding information. Note: funding under this solicitation may only be used to cover costs associated with the evaluation, but may include reasonable costs incurred by program personnel to support activities directly and exclusively required for the execution of the evaluation (e.g., manual extraction of administrative records).

Randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies are a powerful, much needed tool for building scientific evidence about what works. Therefore, studies employing RCT methods to assess the effectiveness of programs and practices will be given higher priority consideration. RCT applications with strong designs measuring outcomes of self-evident policy importance are strongly encouraged. A strong RCT design should include low sample attrition, sufficient sample size, close adherence to random assignment, valid outcome measures, and statistical analyses. Taking RCT costs into consideration, applicants may want to consider studies using privacy- protected administrative data that are already being collected or implementing an intervention into a program already funded.

Local Impact and Responses to Transnational Gangs – Most street gangs in the United States are characterized as either neighborhood-based gangs confined to specific communities, or national-level gangs with a presence in multiple jurisdictions and leadership that may extend beyond local communities. Transnational gangs, on the other hand, are involved in criminal activity that extends across national borders, and may include offenses such as trafficking or smuggling of people, drugs, weapons, or other goods. Transnational gangs, most notably MS-13 (aka Mara Salvatrucha) and 18th Street, have origins among immigrant communities that came to the Los Angeles area of Southern California in the 1980s, primarily from El Salvador. Now they operate in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and across the United States, including California, New York, Virginia, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. MS-13 is known to be particularly violent, but also is engaged in extensive efforts to extort legitimate businesses run by Central American immigrants, and is known to run illegal businesses such as prostitution and gambling. At the local level, in the United States, these gangs affect communities, families, and school-aged children in ways that may be different from other neighborhood-based or national-level gangs. There is evidence of these gang leaders directing activities from prisons. Federal, State, and local officials, as well as nongovernmental organizations, are involved in countering transnational gangs through a variety of prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts. NIJ is seeking research and evaluation projects that build knowledge about the local impact of these gangs and the effectiveness of prevention, intervention, or enforcement responses to these gangs.

Group and Intergroup Factors that Influence Gang Violence – As noted above, a variety of group and intergroup dynamics may influence patterns of gang violence, and patterns of reciprocal and retaliatory violence may establish themselves in communities over extended time periods. NIJ is interested in research that examines how these dynamics may influence increases, decreases, or the persistence of violence over time. For example, are there identifiable disrupters or moderators to the patterns of reciprocal or retaliatory violence that occur between gangs? Applicants are encouraged to propose multi-method research projects in order to capture and analyze data on intergang violence, group level dynamics within gangs, and other local and historical factors. Methods might include, for example, a combination of network analysis, geospatial mapping, and qualitative fieldwork. Although such research is challenging to complete in even a single locality, NIJ is encouraging applications for research in multiple locations in order to increase the external validity.

Gang Involvement in Marijuana Trafficking, Sales and Associated Violence – Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. The demand for marijuana is widespread throughout the United States and filled through a combination of illicit domestic produced marijuana, diverted domestic state-approved marijuana, and foreign produced marijuana trafficked into the country. The potential for financial gain in this high-volume cash market is considerable. Gangs at various levels participate in production, trafficking, local distribution, consolidation of proceeds, and money laundering. Violence is also associated with these activities in a variety of ways. NIJ seeks proposals for research on gang involvement in activities related to illegal marijuana trafficking, and violence associated with these activities. Examples of research questions include: to what extent are gangs involved in the diversion of domestic state-approved marijuana, to what extent does this activity involve associated violence, how are local street gangs coordinating with national and international criminal groups to support the trafficking and sale of foreign produced marijuana in the United States, and in what ways is violence used to support these activities?

New Investigator/Early Career Opportunity:

NIJ is interested in supporting researchers who are early in their careers and new to NIJ’s research grant portfolios, specifically non-tenured assistant professors, or equivalent full-time staff scientist positions in a research institution, who propose research on topics relevant to NIJ’s Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) and/or Office of Science and Technology (OST). Applications that include a principal investigator (PI) who meets the criteria may, in appropriate circumstances, be given special consideration in award decisions.

At the time of application submission, the proposed PI must:
-Hold a non-tenured assistant professor appointment at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or an equivalent full-time staff scientist position at a research institution.
-Have completed their terminal degree or post-graduate clinical training within the ten (10) years prior to September 30, 2018.
-Never have received NIJ funding as a PI on a research project with the exception of Graduate Research Fellows or Data Resources Program grantees.

Note that NIJ grant awards are made to the applicant institution and do not transfer with the proposed PI to other institutions; the institution that applies for the award should be the institution that will manage the award for the duration of the project period. The applicant should identify that this is a New Investigator/Early Career proposal on the title page of their application.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 141795

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NIJ expects to make one or more awards.

Term of Contract:

Awards will normally not exceed a three-year period of performance.

To allow time for (among other things) any necessary post-award review and financial clearance by OJP of the proposed budget and for any associated responses or other action(s) that may be required of the recipient, applicants should propose an award start date of January 1, 2019.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Single entities
  • Small businesses
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

In general, NIJ is authorized to make grants to, or enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with, States (including territories), units of local government, federally recognized Indian tribal governments that perform law enforcement functions (as determined by the Secretary of the Interior), nonprofit and for-profit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations), institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education), and certain qualified individuals.

Foreign governments, foreign organizations, and foreign colleges and universities are not eligible to apply.

All recipients and subrecipients (including any for-profit organization) must forgo any profit or management fee.

NIJ welcomes applications under which two or more entities would carry out the federal award; however, only one entity may be the applicant. Any others must be proposed as subrecipients (subgrantees). The applicant must be the entity that would have primary responsibility for carrying out the award, including administering funding, managing the entire project, and monitoring and appropriately managing any subawards (“subgrants”).

Under this solicitation, any particular applicant entity may submit more than one application, as long as each application proposes a different project in response to the solicitation. Also, an entity may be proposed as a subrecipient (subgrantee) in more than one application.

NIJ may elect to fund applications submitted under this FY 2018 solicitation in future fiscal years, dependent on, among other considerations, the merit of the applications and on the availability of appropriations.

What will not be funded:
-Applications primarily to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies. (A budget may include these items if they are necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis.)
-Applications that are not responsive to this specific solicitation.

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must register with prior to submitting an application.

Applicants must acquire a unique entity identifier (currently, a DUNS number). A DUNS number is usually received within 1-2 business days.

Applicants must acquire or maintain registration with SAM. Each applicant must update or renew its SAM registration at least annually to maintain an active status. SAM registration and renewal can take as long as 10 business days to complete (2 more weeks to acquire an EIN).

An application cannot be successfully submitted in until receives the SAM registration information. Once the SAM registration/renewal is complete, the information transfer from SAM to can take as long as 48 hours. OJP recommends that the applicant register or renew registration with SAM as early as possible.

Applicants must register with at prior to submitting an application. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on April 24, 2018.

To be considered timely, an application must be submitted by the application deadline using, and the applicant must have received a validation message from that indicates successful and timely submission. OJP urges applicants to submit applications at least 72 hours prior to the application due date, to allow time for the applicant to receive validation messages or rejection notifications from, and to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused a rejection notification.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

For assistance with any other requirements of this solicitation, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Response Center:

Toll-free: 1-800-851-3420
TTY: 301-240-6310
Fax: 301-240-5830
Web Chat:

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)