This research project explored how foundations approach funding public safety projects, focusing on two counties (Phillips County, Arkansas, and Coahoma County, Mississippi) in the Mississippi Delta. A needs assessment was conducted by RAND Corporation of the affected communities, identified and reviewed evidence-based strategies for addressing community problems, and provided a roadmap for developing a comprehensive public safety strategy for these counties. The project began with interviews with representatives of peer philanthropic foundations to learn how these foundations approach community public safety, make funding decisions, and measure their impact; in addition, interviewers gathered advice on working as a newcomer to public safety projects. Researchers also conducted a needs assessment of the priority counties to understand specific crime problems and their causes and correlates.
RAND Corporation conducted multiple site visits , dozens of interviews, and two focus groups in each community and reviewed available crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local police departments. Next, we searched the research literature to identify a variety of evidence-based approaches to reducing crime, violence, and its causes and correlates that match the needs identified in the Mississippi Delta. The project concluded with the development of a framework for how to think through the various options for selecting and implementing community-level violence prevention and intervention.