Community organizations work to keep youth off the streets

By Orko Manna

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) – As Sacramento police continue to search for those responsible for Sunday’s mass shooting, community members are focused on preventing future acts of violence.

Detectives also said the evidence points to gang violence. This latest development from the survey has shed light on gang prevention efforts in Sacramento.

Jason Dillard is the co-founder of Academics 4 Athletes, a non-profit organization whose main goal is to keep children off the streets. The organization works with approximately 100 children, ages 12 to 18, primarily in the Del Paso Heights area. Playing basketball features prominently in their programming, but they also host group chats and camping trips, all to provide an alternative to gang involvement.

“They need energy, they need to live inside them, encouragement sometimes, and that’s the role we play,” Dillard said. “We try to help them realize that there is more to it than they currently imagine.”

The same goes for the work of Tyler McClure. McClure is a youth advocate for Voice of the Youth, and he also recently started an organization called Gifted Misfits Incorporated. In both roles, McClure mentors people ages 5 to 22.

“Everything we do is to keep them away from gang violence,” McClure said.

McClure said many people turn to gangs because they’re looking for support — something they’re unlikely to get at home.

“You have to find a sense of belonging somewhere, or you could find yourself on the wrong side of a bullet,” McClure said. “And so to be sure that our young people don’t get caught up in this, we have to create these spaces ourselves.”

But McClure said more investment is needed from the city to expand their reach. He recommends creating spaces for strong sports programs so that lack of money does not prevent families from taking their children there.

The City of Sacramento Office of Violence Prevention has a Gang Prevention and Response Task Force. According to their website, their grants program has distributed approximately $5 million in grants to more than 30 community organizations since 2016.

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