PROGRESS Initiative

Prevent Gun Violence: Research, Empowerment, Strategies & Solutions (PROGRESS)


PROGRESS announces limited submission community innovation seed grants to stimulate interdisciplinary, collaborative university-community research (original and translational) to prevent gun violence. Awards can be used to support new ideas related to a currently unfunded project or a partially/fully funded project that could be expanded significantly with additional funds. It is expected that at a later stage recipients will pursue external funding applications in conjunction with PROGRESS. Click here to apply and to learn more.



PROGRESS is currently seeking applications for a Postdoctoral Associate position. Click here to apply and to learn more.


“Gun violence is a preventable problem and a uniquely American grand challenge. The University of Maryland will not shy away from pursuing innovative solutions backed by science and data to end the scourge of senseless violence in communities across our country.” ​​

Darryll J. Pines, President, University of Maryland

Mission & Objectives

Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic. Every day in the United States, nearly 134 children, women and men lose their lives to firearm violence, and many suffer from non-fatal gun injuries. 

Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for all children and youth in the United States, and has been the leading cause of death for Black children in the United States for almost two decades. Longstanding systemic inequities, structural violence and structural racism widen racial, ethnic and health disparities, limit social, economic and educational opportunities and contribute to increased firearm-related homicide and suicide rates. 

In response to this public health and public safety crisis, the University of Maryland launched the Prevent Gun Violence: Research, Empowerment, Strategies and Solutions (PROGRESS) initiative in November 2023. The PROGRESS initiative addresses two key pillars of UMD’s strategic plan: to accelerate solutions to humanity’s grand challenges and to advance the public good.

The primary mission of PROGRESS is to reduce firearm-related violence using a multi-disciplinary, community-based and translational science approach. The PROGRESS initiative addresses the causes, impact on victims, collateral consequences, and solutions to violence in Maryland and the National Capital Region (NCR).

Strategy & Approach

PROGRESS achieves its mission by advancing cutting-edge research, scholarship, education and actionable gun violence prevention/intervention solutions. PROGRESS educates and engages students and faculty and partners with colleagues and community leaders—regionally and nationally—to transform scientific knowledge into life-saving community actions using all available UMD assets. Bringing together the strengths and assets of UMD enables PROGRESS to act for the public’s good to prevent gun violence and save lives. 

PROGRESS is unique because it focuses on crucial research questions and translational science to inform the development and implementation of high-impact violence reduction interventions. The initiative's inclusive approach emphasizes local engagement and empowerment through partnerships with community organizations, health departments, foundations, businesses, government entities, and law enforcement to disseminate research findings and implement innovative interventions and programs.

PROGRESS deploys unique strengths to advance gun violence reduction, including a focus on community empowerment and a comprehensive research methodology that draws, analyzes, and applies multiple kinds of data, including public health and criminal justice/legal.

Richardson and Kessel
Left to right: Co-Directors Jo Richardson and Woodie Kessel

PROGRESS currently concentrates on these key issues of gun violence research: community violence prevention and intervention; community-based data for action; and safe and secure storage of firearms. The initiative promotes equity and anti-racism by partnering with communities most impacted by gun violence.

PROGRESS Leadership

PROGRESS is led by two outstanding gun violence prevention scholars and practitioners: Jo Richardson, PhD, MPower Professor of African American Studies and Medical Anthropology and Woodie Kessel, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics and the Practice of Public Health. 

Guiding Principles

  • Produce innovative and transformative scholarship using a multidisciplinary approach.
  • Translate science into forward-thinking intervention and prevention programs and policies.
  • Partner with local, state, federal authorities.
  • Empower the community to change the narrative on gun violence research and solutions.
  • Address the root causes: health inequity, structural racism and structural violence.

PROGRESS & The 120 Initiative

Joseph Richardson and Woodie Kessel were lead members of the “120 Initiative,” a Fearlessly Forward research effort sponsored by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. In 2022, the initiative issued a White Paper that featured key policy recommendations designed to decrease the number of gun deaths and injuries. Seeking to build on the momentum generated by the 120 Initiative, UMD President Darryll Pines launched PROGRESS and appointed Dr. Richardson and Dr. Kessel as the co-directors.


Based in UMD's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS), PROGRESS gratefully acknowledges the support of the Office of the President, BSOS, and the School of Public Health.

For more information, please contact us at PROGRESS@umd.edu. Follow the conversation on social media: #PROGRESSumd