Columbus council OKs $1.37 million to help youth, curb violence

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Several organizations in Columbus are trying to make it a safer summer for the city after another violent weekend in a violent year.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Geno Tucker, CEO of Urban Scouts. “It’s very heartbreaking to see these kids, to see these young adults out here shooting and killing each other.”

Ten organizations, including Urban Scouts, just found out they’ll be getting more money to make that work possible this summer.

A lot of groups and social service organizations have done this work in previous years, and the additional money will allow them to reach even more children.

Columbus City Council approved $1.37 million in funding Monday for those 10 organizations. The money will be spread throughout the groups.

This is the second allocation from the city’s $10 million Reimagine Safety Fund, bringing the full 2021 allocation to nearly $3 million.

The goal behind all the groups is to keep children safe and away from crime through mentorship programs, job training opportunities, leadership training, and more.

Urban Scouts, for example, trains children from underserved communities in landscaping and pays them for work they do in the community.

Last summer, Urban Scouts worked with 45 kids. This summer, with the additional funding, they’ll get to work with 80.

“Stay out of trouble, be out of the way,” said Greyshawn Braxton, who has been working with Urban Scouts for the last year. “This is something positive that we got going on.”

The youth development organization keeps its kids focused on bettering themselves instead of being caught up in trouble.

“It make me feel good because I did something positive,” said Amorreon Gooch, who has also been with Urban Scouts for the last year.

Last summer marked the first for Urban Scouts’ landscaping program, which, in addition to training the children, provides lawn care services for low income residents for free.

“If we want to get the kids off the streets, we have to give them what the streets offer, and that’s money and a sense of belonging,” Tucker said. “At Urban Scouts, we are a family and we make sure you got money to take care of you and your family.”

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said in total, the funds should help 2,500 children in the city.

“We’re going to be able to reach more kids on the south side, partner with more Columbus City Schools, and make a great impact,” said Darlene Scheid, youth development director with Community Development for All People, another organization receiving an award from the city.

The 10 organizations as well as their allocations are:

  • Urban Scouts: $200,000
  • Legacy Youth Sports League: $200,000
  • Africentric Personal Development Shop: $170,000
  • Community of Caring Development Foundation and St. Stephen’s Community House: $135,000
  • Community Development for All People: $90,000
  • Marion-Franklin Civic Association: $50,000
  • Columbus Urban League: $200,000
  • Community for New Direction: $170,000
  • Martin de Porres Center: $131,000
  • Highland Youth Garden: $25,000

“Youth violence is on the rise, and there is no single solution,” Hardin said in a press release. “But one critical piece is giving youth engaging, enriching opportunities to learn, grow and earn this summer. As a community, we must help them see beyond their present situations.”

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