As his family celebrated Thanksgiving this year, Abdel Bashiti played games with his cousins and made s'mores. Less, than 24 hours later, the 12-year-old boy was killed by a bullet that strayed from a gang dispute outside his father’s beauty supply store in Cleveland.
The shooting left his family in shock and city leaders and law enforcement agencies scrambling for ways to suppress youth violence and eradicate gangs from Cleveland’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
The Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance knows the challenges and has been tackling the city’s problem for the past decade by mediating disputes and mentoring at-risk teens and adults. An $800,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation will help support the Alliance’s projects and programs.
Nationwide, nonprofits like the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance are seeking to expand sorely needed services to empower at-risk youth, keep them active in programming and provide a foundation for making healthy choices.
Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of Grantwatch.com, says government agencies and private foundations have committed to fund programs that support law enforcement strategies and expand programs for at-risk youth populations.
New York State has proposed spending $11.5 million on Long Island to thwart gang recruitment by expanding after-school programs, vocational training, and educational efforts.
Grantwatch.com currently lists funding opportunities for similar programs that respond to the needs of hard-hit local communities, especially at-risk youth and adults who are economically or physically challenged. These programs can support to initiatives focused on athletics, the arts and other educational projects.
The Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance will use a portion of its grant money to fund Pathway to Resilience, a career-training program that combines instruction with extracurricular activities, such as athletics and music. Pathway to Resilience, launched last year, is a partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and Resilience Capital Partners.
Research has shown that after-school programs can help lower school drop-out rates and reduce youth crime. Toward this end, Grantwatch.com lists RFPs for nonprofits that can develop programs to encourage at-risk youth to participate in sports, high-quality after-school programs and in-school academic activities. Funds can be used for community events, academic tutoring, sports camps, school and youth-group athletic programs and coaching leadership and development.
Some grants listed that are region specific are:
According to the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College, taxpayers save roughly $3 for every dollar spent on high-quality after-school programs. If benefits from crime reduction are factored in, each dollar invested in an at-risk child saves $8-$12.
Child advocates also say adult role models can push at-risk youth to make better choices and become productive citizens. At-risk young people who had mentors, according to “The Mentoring Effect” report, are 76 percent more likely to aspire to enroll in college and are also more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, sports team, school council and other groups.
Rise Up For Youth started in 2005 as a mentoring and gang prevention program. The local nonprofit is fighting to keep kids alive in Wichita, Kan., where four teens were murdered last year. On top of that figure, seven teens have been arrested in homicides that have taken place in the city in 2017.
Even one life lost, the organization says, is one too many. That’s why Rise Up For Youth has expanded its program to four Wichita high schools, where volunteers mentor at-risk youth. Part of that job means helping the students pick their careers and visit colleges. The group boasts a 100 percent graduation rate among its high school students and 70 percent went on to enroll in secondary education or military service.
About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com