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Public Education and Awareness Projects

OVC is committed to ensuring that victims' rights are recognized throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems and that victims' voices are consistently heard throughout the Nation. As part of these efforts, OVC supports programs that generate greater awareness among victims, survivors, and communities about victims' rights and services. Through initiatives such as National Crime Victims' Rights Week, OVC is building capacity to promote victims' rights and services at the local level. Because these initiatives seek to expand awareness of and compliance with victims' rights, each supports the others in educating the Nation about victims' issues.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Crime Victims' Rights Week, calling for “a renewed emphasis on, and an enhanced sensitivity to, the rights of victims.” Each April since then, communities nationwide have held public rallies, candlelight observances, and commemorative activities to promote awareness of victims' rights and needs. OVC coordinates the annual commemoration of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) and uses the event to recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding service in supporting victims and victim services.

OVC also helps communities organize activities and initiatives during the weeklong celebration by supporting the development and dissemination of the NCVRW Resource Guide—a collection of national statistics on crime and victimization, sample press releases, camera-ready artwork, sample speeches and proclamations, and a short introductory theme DVD for use at NCVRW events and throughout the year.

Each year, OVC conducts an extensive nomination and review process to identify exemplary individuals and organizations to receive one of eight prestigious awards:
  • The National Crime Victim Service Award is the highest federal honor bestowed on outstanding advocates, many of whom are victims serving as role models and offering inspiration to others in the field.
  • The Crime Victims Fund Award recognizes outstanding individuals or teams whose work exemplifies efforts to hold offenders accountable, secure deposits in the Crime Victims Fund, and defend the rights of victims to receive restitution.
  • The Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services was instituted in 2002 in memory of OVC employee Susan Laurence, who helped professionals who had not traditionally served victims to develop effective responses to them.
  • The Special Courage Award recognizes those who have demonstrated extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of crime.
  • The Allied Professional Award recognizes individuals from a specific discipline outside the victim assistance field for their service to victims and the victims field.
  • The Volunteer for Victims Award honors those who serve crime victims without compensation, in addition to their other responsibilities.
  • The Federal Service Award honors individuals for their direct service to victims of federal crime.
  • The Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award, first announced during the 2005 NCVRW Awards Ceremony, honors an individual whose leadership, vision, and innovation have led to significant changes in public policy and practice that benefit crime victims.

For information about past award recipients' accomplishments and how to nominate an individual or organization for one of these awards, visit OVC's NCVRW page.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week Community Awareness Projects

The National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Community Awareness Projects initiative helps communities raise awareness of victims' rights and services. Through this initiative, approximately 60 victim assistance organizations nationwide are selected each year to receive up to $5,000 in reimbursement for their innovative outreach and public awareness activities carried out during NCVRW. Specifically, project funds help defray costs associated with the following activities:

  • Advertising to promote NCVRW events, victims' rights, and services.
  • Design and print of promotional or educational materials, posters, invitations, and fliers.
  • Purchase of supplies, materials, and equipment used in public awareness events and activities.
  • Support of NCVRW event speakers.

A requirement of the funding is development of a communitywide, collaborative approach that highlights services for all types of crime victims. The strategy should involve various entities within the community, such as victim assistance organizations, faith-based and community organizations that provide services to crime victims, criminal justice system agencies, the civic and business communities, and schools, colleges, and universities. Public agencies, nonprofit organizations, community-based victim service organizations, community coalitions, faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and tribal organizations are eligible to apply. Funding is intended to support community-based campaigns, not campaigns that are state or national in scope. For details about the 2005 and 2006 initiatives, visit the project's 2006 home page on the OVC Web site.

OVC Resource Center

The OVC Resource Center (OVCRC) provides information and resources to agencies and organizations that support victims and victim service providers, including national, international, state, military, tribal advocacy assistance, and nonprofit agencies. As part of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), OVCRC offers—

  • Qualified staff to answer questions or conduct research.
  • Publications and other resources from the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice agencies.
  • The NCJRS library and abstract database, a repository of more than 190,000 scholarly reports, journal articles, books, and other media on criminal justice and victim issues and research.
  • A broad array of resources accessible through the NCJRS Web site (www.ncjrs.gov) under the topic "Victims."
  • Additional online resources, including the OVC Web Forum, online resource directory, and calendar of events.
  • Subscription services for the biweekly online newsletter JUSTINFO, periodic electronic notices, and many topic-focused listservs.

For more details, visit the OVCRC Web site.

Oral History Project

OVC is pleased to share a unique resource that helps users to learn more about the victims' rights movement and its evolution. Developed by Justice Solutions through a cooperative agreement with OVC, the Oral History Project of the Crime Victim Assistance Field tells the story of the victims' rights movement as documented through multiple interviews, photographs, video, audio, and other textual documents of significance to the victim assistance field. The entire collection (with more than 55 hours of interviews from 65 individuals) is housed onsite at the University of Akron 's library in Akron, Ohio. An online version is available to the public and a smaller resolution video playback screen is available via the Internet. Researchers, academicians, victim assistance providers, news media personnel, and students can access this information at http://vroh.uakron.edu.

Visitors to the University of Akron's library archive will also have access to the hardcopy collection of documents of historical significance to the crime victims' field that were cataloged as part of the library's holdings. For more information about the Oral History Project, contact David Beatty, Justice Solution's Project Manager, at dbeatty@justicesolutions.org.

Public Awareness in Underserved Communities

OVC recently launched this initiative to raise awareness among underserved populations about victims' rights as well as to improve their knowledge about how to access local services available to crime victims. Since 2005, grant awards have been made to 12 organizations to support the planning and development of victimization-focused public awareness campaigns targeted at underserved populations with limited English proficiency (LEP) in the local community. Victim service organizations will work with ethnic media (radio, print, television) as well as ethnic- and faith-based organizations to produce linguistically and culturally appropriate public awareness campaigns on one or more victimization issues.

Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance Field

In conjunction with the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) developed youth-led education and awareness initiatives in 20 school and community-based sites. The primary goals were to educate adolescents on the dynamics of victimization and increase the capacity of local victim service providers to address the special needs of adolescent victims. The project partners developed a training curriculum, a national training for 20 sites, training and technical assistance for additional sites, and a toolkit.


OVC steadfastly works to put victims first and make their voices heard. To promote and increase the public's awareness of victims' needs and to improve services available to victims, OVC continually fine-tunes its initiatives and creates new ones that enhance its message about victims' rights, services, and issues. Better awareness leads to enhanced comprehensive services for all victims of crime.

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