D.A. Vance Invests $8 Million To Create “Center for Trauma Innovation” in East Harlem


September 28, 2020

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., today announced the award of $8 million to Exodus Transitional Community to create a first-of-its-kind Center for Trauma Innovation (CTI) located in East Harlem and serving Northern Manhattan. Untreated trauma and exposure to trauma play a significant role in perpetuating cycles of violence. The CTI will address the needs of individuals exposed to trauma by enhancing and expanding trauma-informed and trauma-specific services and resources. It will focus on communities of color that experience disproportionate rates of violence and have less access to trauma services. The D.A.’s Office is providing this grant through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which D.A. Vance created using millions seized in investigations against major banks.
 
“The Center for Trauma Innovation will address underlying trauma and promote healing and resiliency in underserved communities, helping to interrupt cycles of violence and provide crucial resources during this period of increased gun violence in New York City,” said District Attorney Vance. “Long-term, transformative change in our justice system requires substantial community reinvestment that closes the gap between law enforcement budgets and social service expenditures. Beyond arrests and prosecutions, we can create healthier, safer, and stronger communities by lifting up grassroots organizations already working in our underserved communities of color to interrupt cycles of violence, heal survivors, and prevent future justice-system involvement. That is the mission behind much of the work of our Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, and the heart of this new partnership with Exodus Transitional Community.”
 
“We are so excited to be leading this groundbreaking Center for Trauma Innovation in our community,” said Julio Medina, CEO of Exodus Transitional Community. “We know that those who have experienced varied degrees of trauma are traditionally forgotten by our systems, and we are proud to be partners with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in the healing and resiliency of our City.”
 
Numerous studies link surviving or witnessing abuse to subsequent arrest or incarceration. In one example, a recent study examining the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among prison inmates found that nearly half of the incarcerated men had experienced some sort of physical trauma prior to incarceration. However, there is a dearth of resources tailored to the experiences and needs of individuals exposed to trauma, and particularly people of color exposed to trauma.
 
Housed within Exodus Transitional Community’s East Harlem headquarters, the CTI will offer free, extensive, evidence-based clinical and non-clinical therapies addressing trauma tailored to communities of color, particularly young people, members of the LGBTQIA community, and immigrants. Community-based healing staff will engage in traditional and non-traditional forms of physical, psychological, and emotional healing. The CTI will build relationships with the community through as many access points as possible and pursue creative means to engage in healing work.
 
In addition to treating hundreds of New Yorkers, the CTI will provide training and technical assistance to New York City agencies and other community-based organizations to be more competent in working with people who have experienced trauma. It will also create a Trauma Innovation Learning Community that brings together national leaders in this field to contribute new research about this underserved population, and develop best-practices.
 
Along with its on-site therapeutic services, the CTI will operate a van that will respond in real-time to crises and connect with individuals on the ground. Additionally, Exodus will partner with existing grassroots organizations to offer a multi-faceted approach to trauma treatment. These partner organizations will provide innovative approaches to healing, such as: animal assisted healing, media and journalism workshops, restorative circles, specialized group counseling, and the use of art and drama in therapy.
 
Exodus will also select three small organizations in Northern Manhattan that are conducting healing work and provide them with micro-grants of $20,000 per year for three years, along with training and support to help them grow.
 
CJII Research and Consultation Process
 
The CJII plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG will provide program oversight and performance measurement to grantees selected under CJII.
 
A full list of investments can be found in CJII’s 2019 Progress Report.