Congressman David Price announced Tuesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will award a grant of over $1.79 million to the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center. The grant will be dispersed over four years, and will be used specifically to study the impact of the “Wise Guys: The Next Level” rape prevention education (RPE) program.

The Wise Guys: The Next Level program was designed by the Children’s Home Society. Its purpose is to educate young men and boys in Guilford County about relationship violence and sexual assault prevention. The CDC-funded study will help determine the best practices for expanding similar RPE programs throughout North Carolina.

Price said in a release, “I am thrilled that UNC has received this funding, which will help ensure that North Carolina remains at the forefront of preventing sexual and intimate partner violence. The UNC Injury Prevention Research Center and Children’s Home Society are doing vitally important work to support a culture of respectful relationships.”

“Sexual violence is a highly prevalent and deeply significant social and public health problem,” said co-principal investigator for the evaluation, Dr. Kathryn E. (Beth) Moracco, a faculty member in the department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Despite the magnitude and severity of sexual violence, little is known about how best to prevent sexual violence perpetration. This critical gap in the sexual violence prevention evidence limits our ability to implement comprehensive programs to prevent and reduce sexual violence perpetration.”

“Working through state health departments, such as Injury and Violence Prevention Branch in the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC has provided financial support for many Rape Prevention Education (RPE ) programs like ‘Wise Guys: The Next Level,” said co-principal investigator for the evaluation, Dr. Rebecca Macy with UNC’s School of Social Work. “However, the effectiveness of most of these community-based rape prevention programs remains largely unknown since there have been very few randomized trials like this study. This study will add to practice-based evidence on strategies for sexual violence prevention.”

The study will be conducted by faculty at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health and UNC School of Social Work.