Our Grants

Dangerous Recipe: Ingredients Contributing to African-American Gun Violence


This project will leverage the experience, knowledge and status of HBCUs in the African-American community to conduct research on attitudes toward guns ownership, possession, and usage by urban youth (15-24), through qualitative and quantitative analyses, in three or four cities.




We will document critical attitudes and social-cultural reasons that young African-American men carry guns, as a basis for evidence-based programs to decrease gun possession, and as a result, gun violence. By leveraging HBCU status in the Black community, we hope to uncover culturally specific attitudes unrevealed to non-community members.


Working with HBCU professors, we will utilize a mixed qualitative and quantitative methodology. In Year 1, the study team will analyze existing data on attitudes of young Black men toward guns using publicly available data from a variety of sources. During Year 2, each HBCU professor will conduct qualitative research in the target communities, to identify the reasons why Black male youth ages 15-24 possess guns.

Qualitative research will be conducted through personal interviews, to gain a statistically significant sample to conduct inferential analyses, and will employ convenience and snowball sampling techniques. Interviews will utilize semi-structured interviews, to facilitate quantitative and qualitative analyses. Standardized questions will be aggregated across sites, providing a general description of gun possession attitudes among young Black men. Responses will be analyzed using descriptive and inferential analyses to identify common factors associated with gun possession across sites, along with deviations and site-specific differences.


Without a contemporary understanding of why young Black men choose to possess guns, and what are their trigger points—gathered from within their community—strategies to root out gun violence cannot successfully target the true factors that lead to gun violence.


Investigator Bios

Dr. Harry L. Williams has served as Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s president and CEO since 2017, the first sitting university president to lead the organization. As president of Delaware State University (DSU), Dr. Williams’ successful eight-year term included stewarding several multi-million dollar grants, and expanding the university’s research capabilities. DSU also experienced an increased student enrollment during his tenure.

Dr. Dorothy Dillard, director of Delaware State University’s Center for Neighborhood and Revitalization Research, has conducted qualitative and quantitative research for over 35 years, with a specific focus on supplementing quantitative analyses with qualitative research. She has designed, administered and analyzed semi-structured interviews and focus groups with adults and juveniles. She will lead the research in Wilmington, DE, and serve as co-principal investigator for the project, being the primary designer of the qualitative research phase.

Grant Amount
Award Type
Thurgood Marshall College Fund
Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund; and Dr. Dorothy Dillard, director of Delaware State University’s Center for Neighborhood and Revitalization Research
Expected Completion Date
June 2022
Focus Areas
Urban Gun Violence