Our History


The Urban Peace Institute (UPI) is a recognized leader in the field of community safety, just policing, and systems reform to end violence and mass incarceration. For over 17 years, UPI has worked to develop and implement innovative solutions to address community violence and engage in system reform. This work began as a program of the nonprofit organization, Advancement Project, and beginning in 2015, grew to become an independent organization fiscally sponsored by Community Partners.

UPI was founded by civil rights leader Connie Rice in response to Los Angeles’ failed and costly 30-year war on gangs that resulted in 450,000 youth arrests and persistent conflict between law enforcement and communities of color. Since its establishment, UPI has worked tirelessly to reform community safety practices. In 2007, UPI pioneered a groundbreaking A Call to Action report and worked in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department to effectively change the way Los Angeles deals with gangs and violence.

UPI’s advocacy for a comprehensive violence reduction strategy resulted in the adoption of programs such as the Mayor’s Gang Reduction & Youth Development Office, Community Safety Partnership and Summer Night Lights programs. Five years later, the homicide rate in Los Angeles was at its lowest since the 1960’s, gang related crime decreased by more than 15%, and gang related homicides plummeted by 35%.

Leveraging our efforts to promote relationship based policing, UPI established the Urban Peace Academy to train community gang intervention practitioners and law enforcement officers in public health approaches to reduce violence. Through the Urban Peace Academy, over 3,000 gang intervention workers, law enforcement officers, and community residents have now been trained to work collaboratively in promoting community safety throughout the nation.  Our expertise in violence reduction has also been sought to transform cities throughout California, and across the country. UPI’s unique approach has now been applied in over 20 communities across the country to effectively increase safety.

Today, UPI remains a leader in promoting community health and safety, ending mass incarceration, and expanding relationship based policing. Learn more about our continuing impact in reducing violence.