Rob Gore

Founder, Kings Against Violence Initiative

NYC

I grew up in Brooklyn in the 80’s and 90’s. After I left Brooklyn, I moved to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College for Undergrad, and then SUNY Buffalo for Medical School.  After that, I went on to Chicago to work at Cook County Hospital.

Growing up in Brooklyn and then moving to Atlanta in the early-90’s and on to Buffalo, we saw a lot of issues as it relates to violence. In the 80’s and 90’s we had the crack cocaine era, and whether you were involved in street life or just a bystander, you were affected by it because you saw violence all around you. Being a medical student and also spending time in hospitals, I started seeing a lot of patients coming in that were affected by violence and penetrating trauma.

Recognizing the patterns and looking at a lot of violence, you realize there’s got to be a point where this has to stop, so you start looking at different practices. I started doing a lot of research specifically on violence intervention when I was at Cook County, looking at different violence intervention programs out there and looking at violence not just as a public health issue, but also exploring a best-practices approach to what could be done.

When we started putting all of the pieces together to develop KAVI, it was in response to making sure that we didn’t have more young men and young women of color coming into the emergency department brutally injured for something that was purely avoidable. Back in 2009 I launched a summer program for minority medical and premed students who had an interest in emergency medicine, to help increase and improve mentoring among young medical students of color. We wanted to focus on project development and the first project that we were charged to work with was developing a hospital and school-based violence intervention program, looking at both traditional and non-traditional models and adding in some creative practices, which is how KAVI was created.

The support that we got from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s initiative with Catchafire has been great, as we’ve been able to get in-kind support around structural systems that we’re trying to put into place.  We also benefited from the #BMAGive campaign, where we were able to raise funds and Crowdrise has agreed to continue to support us.

Ultimately, I want the young people we work with to have greater access to opportunities -- whether it’s educational, entrepreneurial or business. I want them to become change agents, because I want to pass this torch on. If I’m doing the same thing 20 years from now in the same capacity, that means that we haven’t done our job.

To learn more and find out how you can support the Kings Against Violence Initiative, visit www.kavibrooklyn.org. You can also follow them on Twitter at @KAVI_Brooklyn.