University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Johnstown's Cure Violence Program Includes Pitt-Johnstown Faculty, Students

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown received a $50,000 Pitt Seed Grant from the University of Pittsburgh to assist Hope4Johnstown (H4J) with an assessment to help mitigate violent crime in Johnstown. The Cure Violence assessment researches attitudes about violence and drugs in the community and provides tools and educational opportunities to the region. 

Working together with H4J, the City of Johnstown was recently awarded $150,000 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant to fund a one-year Cure Violence program. Cure Violence is a science-based and public health-minded system that’s shown success in neighborhoods within Philadelphia, Chicago and Pittsburgh and the upstart Johnstown group wants to have an assessment conducted to determine the best way to approach it in the Flood City,

Workshops will be held on Thursday, November 1 at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown’s Murtha Center for National Competitiveness.  Elected officials, law enforcement, first responders, local residents, non-profit organizations, school officials, and community members are asked to attend.

“This workshop is intended to get people inspired about the prospect for zero deaths in Johnstown, and find out what Cure Violence is all about,” said Christine Dahlin, Associate Professor Biology at Pitt-Johnstown and Secretary of H4J. “The community of Johnstown has pulled together amazingly over the past year. A Cure Violence program will only be successful if the whole Community pulls together and plays a role.”

Workshops will be led by Philadelphia CeaseFire staff. The day’s schedule is as follows:

  • 9:00-10:20 a.m.: Law enforcement
  • 10:30-11:50 a.m.: Health/ Hospital/ Fire
  • 1:30-2:50 p.m.: Elected Officials
  • 3:00-4:20 p.m.: Funding Organizations
  • 6:00-7:30 p.m.: Community (nonprofits, businesses, schools)

A diverse group of faculty and staff from Pitt-Johnstown are supporting this effort. Dr. Christine Dahlin, Associate Professor Biology, Grant PI, Dr. Gerald Zahorchak, Chair of the Division of Education, Dr. Stephanie Jimenez, Assistant Professor Psychology, Dr. Ross Kleinstuber, Associate Professor Sociology, Dr. Jeremiah Coldsmith, Assistant Professor Sociology and Dr. Paul Lucas, Professor Communication make up the diverse disciplines implementing various research and planning efforts.

Pitt-Johnstown student’s Chris Brown, Emily Stewart and Ryan McFarland are receiving a real-world learning experience by supporting marketing and research efforts as well.

Community collaborators Richard Lobb, Goodwill, include Wes Neil, Owner Prime Designs, Dewind Triplin, Mentor, Vice-Chair of H4J, Lamar Porcher, Mentor, Social Media Chair of H4J.

A portion of the grant will fund SEEDING STEM, a program to teach local children about careers in STEM related fields.  Roxanne Jenner, Director of CODE Program, Pitt-Johnstown, Greater Johnstown School District and Alan Cashaw, Chair of H4J are leading the effort.

After the workshop is complete, H4J expects to acquire partners from across the community in order to establish a successful Cure Violence committee. A program timeline will be completed and H4J plans to work closely with the city moving forward.

Anyone who is interested in H4J is invited to get involved with the organization by attending not only the community portion of the workshop, but also regular meetings, which are held on Tuesday’s.  H4J maintains an active social media presence at  To join the email list please email

About Cure Violence

The Cure Violence model treats violence likes a disease and helps stem the spread of violence and build stronger, healthier communities. 

Independent evaluations of program sites in four different major U.S. cities each found large reductions in violence associated with the Cure Violence approach -- as well as many other positive program effects:

New York

  • Up to 63% reduction in shootings
  • Improvement in confidence in police
  • Reduction in attitudes supporting violence


  • Up to 56% reduction in killings
  • Up to 44% reduction in shootings
  • A shift in norms to be less supporting of the acceptability of gun violence


  • 41% to 73% reduction in shootings and killings across 7 communities
  • 100% reduction in (elimination of) retaliation killings in 5 communities
  • 87% of clients received help tin accessing employment, education, drug treatment, counseling, and other services


  • 30% reduction in shootings

H4J is an organization that formed directly in response to the unprecedented murders that have occurred in Johnstown in recent years, with the goal of having zero deaths and bringing the Cure Violence program to Johnstown. H4J’s Mission is to Eliminate inequalities that have created a climate of violence in our community; alleviate the pain and promote the healing. H4J’s Vision is a diverse community of one family. Although H4J has only been a formal organization for less than one year, they have already held many community events including 814 Funday, Fades n’ Braids, and a community dinner.

H4J chose Cure Violence as the most appropriate model because it is Nationally recognized as a successful means to reduce gun violence.  Cure Violence works by detecting and interrupting conflicts using trained workers (interrupters), identifying people at high risk of violence to help them maintain peace in the community, and changing social norms so that violence is deemed unacceptable in the community.  More information about the Cure Violence program can be found here:

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.