Youth Against Violence will graduate another class Oct. 13 from the program.
It will have help with that and other projects through a grant from the Donald L. Hollowell Foundation.
The foundation, named after the civil rights attorney who was instrumental in desegregating public institutions in Georgia, gave the program $1,500.
Deputy Police Chief Gary Sparks said the funds will go to good use. Sparks, along with Police Sgt. Ken Winklepleck, manages the program.
“This will help us with our graduation, buy supplies, for field trips and paying the instructors,” he said. “They really upped the ante this time.”
Youth Against Violence, a gang prevention program, was started two years ago after retired Police Chief Joe Whisenant recognized that the Police Department was beginning to experience an influx of gang-related crimes. The first gang unit was created at that time, and Youth Against Violence came shortly thereafter.
Participants — many ordered by judges who work to keep young people out of the criminal justice system — are taught, mentored and counseled about gangs. They also learn about conflict resolution, drugs and alcohol, leadership and more.
Sometimes it’s the parents who read or hear about the program and want their child to participate. The program has attracted attention and has had support from community leaders and celebrities who have conducted motivational speeches at some of the workshops.
In addition to speakers from local agencies and businesses, the program has included state Reps. Tyrone Brooks and Roger Bruce, boxing heavyweight contender Kevin Johnson, Tuskegee airman Pouncey Hill and rapper/actor T.I. Harris as speakers.
Ronald Ricks, a local man who serves on the Hollowell Foundation’s board of directors, recently sat in on a workshop. He will be one of the speakers at the upcoming graduation at the Downtown Conference Center. Sparks said the foundation has been a great supporter.
“We are thankful they are looking at our program,” Sparks said.
The foundation was established in 2000 as a nonprofit organization. Its objective is to provide financial assistance to various community organizations that help serve the educational and social needs of youths and seniors across Georgia, according to its Web site.