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Grant funding available to programs serving youth at highest risk for violence
January 31, 2024, 8:20 p.m.

KNOXVILLE - The City of Knoxville invites non-profit and community-based organizations to apply for grant funds available to support high-quality programming and/or employment to Knoxville youth most at risk for experiencing violence. Applications are due Feb. 23, and an informational meeting will be held via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 1, at noon.

Since the grant program was initiated in 2021, the City has invested nearly $629,000 in grant funding to support youth engagement activities during spring and summer months which have served nearly 1,400 youth.

“Helping our most at-risk youth plug into positive networks and get involved in activities tied to personal, community and social growth is a great way to start breaking down obstacles to success,” said Director of the Office of Community Safety and Empowerment LaKenya Middlebrook. “Positive experiences and job opportunities broadens their view of what's possible.”

Activities should specifically engage and provide meaningful activities and experiences for Opportunity Youth, young people identified as being at the highest risk of becoming a victim of violent crime or perpetrating violent crime. Opportunity Youth are people ages 16 to 24, who are:

• Members of, or associated with, an active crew/group/gang
• Juveniles/involved with the criminal justice system
• Disconnected from school, work, or consistent participation in community-based programs/services
• Victims of previous violent crime
• Close friends or family members of someone who was shot in the last year

In previous years, separate grants were offered for programming during spring break and summer break, respectively. For this grant cycle, the grant opportunity will allow organizations to serve youth continually for spring, summer, and/or fall.

“We responded to the mix of different organizations applying for grants, their sizes and capacity for programming during different parts of the school year,” Partnerships & Programs Coordinator Starlandia Starks said.

Awards may range between $5,000 and $40,000 and shall specifically support programming, stipends, payment, or other services directly for the Opportunity Youth engaged in programming. Grants to be awarded in March 2024 will support programming carried out between April 22 and Oct. 12, 2024.

New this year: Knox County Juvenile Court (KCJC) will make referrals to grant-awarded organizations in an effort to ensure that funding impacts those at highest risk. To be eligible for funding, organizations must agree to serve, at minimum, 3 youth referred by KCJC.

Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Applications and additional information, including guidelines, a budget template and contacts for assistance, are posted online. That website also includes reports for 2022 and 2023, and details about the Youth Violence Prevention Week Grant program.

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