Previous research indicates that communities can be engaged at various levels in research to reduce youth violence. In this paper, we argue that the method of power sharing among partners is a central factor distinguishing different levels of engagement. Using cases from the Nashville Urban Partnership Academic Center of Excellence, we identify community initiation and community collaboration as distinct approaches to community engaged violence prevention research. The power relationships among partners are analyzed to highlight differences in the types of engagement and to discuss implications for establishing and sustaining community partnerships. Also, the implications of levels of engagement for promoting the use of evidence-based practices are discussed.