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Mayor Keller, APS Students Call for Expansion of School-Based VIP Program

Program successfully disrupts cycles of violence and offers peer support.
December 07, 2023

Mayor Keller, the Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) department, and students participating in the School-Based Violence Intervention Program (SBVIP) at West Mesa High School attended last night’s Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Board Meeting. Mayor Keller talked about the outcomes of the collaborative effort between the City and APS to prevent and reduce gun violence in Albuquerque schools and asked for the SBVIP to be expanded to high schools across the city.

Since the program was first offered at West Mesa High School in November 2022, 27 students have participated. Students are referred by teachers and staff based on history and risk to be involved in gun violence. Upon choosing to participate in the program, they are connected with an SBVIP specialist and other participating peers to share experiences, build connections, and improve academic performance. Notable outcomes include a 33% increase in average overall GPA and an 85% reduction in major offenses.

“We’ve delivered results, and we know we can continue delivering results through this program,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “By expanding VIP across all of our APS schools, we can transform negative outcomes into positives and protect our greatest investment—our kids.”

The SBVIP program is currently in place West Mesa High School and was recently expanded to RFK Middle and High School. The City is looking to implement the program in all APS high schools plus three schools of choice. The cost for this expansion is approximately $1.8 Million. APS and the City of Albuquerque will partner to request funding from the state legislature in the upcoming session for SBVIP.

“This is an example of the type of collaboration that our community needs. These are problems that aren’t going to be solved by one entity,” said APS Superintendent Scott Elder. “It takes us all coming together, and this program is really going to benefit students across the entire city and our community will be better because of it.”

“We have proven the program can be impactful because our students are attending school regularly and passing most of their classes, but it shouldn't be isolated to just West Mesa High School,” said West Mesa Principal Michelle Torres. “I strongly believe that all high schools should have the opportunity to work with the School-Based Violence Intervention Program.”