Groups Funded for Summer Youth Violence Prevention


Indya Kincannon
[email protected]
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Groups Funded for Summer Youth Violence Prevention

Posted: 05/18/2023
Thirteen local organizations will receive a total of $198,621.50 in Summer Youth Opportunity Grant funding to provide summer job opportunities and activities to opportunity youth – young people ages 16-24 who are most at risk for violence. 

“It’s especially important for young people who have been engaged in violence as a victim or as someone who has caused harm to see that they have options beyond violence, that they are connected to a community that cares about their quality of life and their futures,” says Mustafa Ali-Smith, Program Specialist with the Office of Community Safety and Empowerment. “This funding is helping expand those opportunities to more young people.”

City Council voted unanimously to approve funding, which will go to the following applicants: 

The Bottom: $10,000
The Change Center: $19,981.50
Closer Walk Reentry & Advocacy Program, Inc.: $20,000
Drums Up Guns Down: $20,000
Emerald Youth Foundation: $15,000
The 5th Woman: $10,000
Girl Talk, Inc.: $18,000
Karate Five Association: $20,000
Shora Foundation: $14,640
Two Bikes: $20,000
Yoke Youth Ministries: $6,000
You in the Mirror: $5,000
YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley: $20,000

In 2022, 220 youth participated in Summer Break programming; 86 percent were Black, and 147 reported Opportunity Youth status. Learn more from the Grants Impact Report

The City’s Office of Community Empowerment piloted the Summer Youth Opportunity Grants program in 2021. This year, 18 organizations applied, reflecting a year-over-year increase in applications submitted. Funded organizations include long-standing entities as well as new organizations created to meet a need in our community. 

Chief Community Safety and Empowerment Officer LaKenya Middlebrook says it’s important for the City to partner with agencies that work with young people when they’re out of school, especially those not already participating in other programs. “We know that connection through jobs and activities provides support for opportunity youth to build social and professional skills and develop tools that can help them make healthy decisions. It is also critically important for young people to be able to try new experiences and have fun,” says Middlebrook. 

Applications for the summer grant program were reviewed by an ad-hoc committee consisting of two City employees, one community member, and a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council. Committee members met to discuss the applications and vote on which would be funded and at what amount. Ali-Smith and Middlebrook provided background information to support the committee but did not vote.  

The Office of Community Safety, established by Mayor Kincannon in August 2021, leads violence interruption strategies, coordinates safety innovation and collaboration among City departments, and enhances partnerships with on-the-ground people and organizations who are working to make Knoxville safer. Mayor Kincannon recently announced that the OCS will merge with the Office of Community Empowerment to form the Office of Community Safety and Empowerment, under the leadership of LaKenya Middlebrook and newly announced Deputy Tiffany Davidson, who currently serves as Director of the Police Advisory and Review Committee (PARC).  

For more information about available grants and other activities of the Office of Community Safety and Empowerment, visit