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Paycheck for Protection: Teens clock in to first day of violence prevention program

The City of Knoxville has responded to the killings of several high school students, involved in gun violence this year, with a new work program.
Paycheck for Protection: Teens clock in to first day of violence prevention program
Paycheck for Protection: Teens clock in to first day of violence prevention program(WVLT)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 12:10 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The City of Knoxville has responded to the killings of several high school students, involved in gun violence this year, with a new work program.

On Monday, 20 teenagers began their first day of work at Sols Write House Empowerment Center in East Knoxville. The students will get paid to learn how to make their own graphic t-shirts, publish a book, and start a business.

Some of the kids told WVLT News they have witnessed crime or didn’t have stable upbringings.

Nineteen-year-old Mystica Philips, who is working with Sols Write House, said she was there to be a mentor.

“Growing up, I was actually in a foster home and I didn’t get a lot of help going through all the stuff - that I went through,” said Philips. “When I got older, I was like ‘I’m going to help them.’ And, with all the ability that I have, I’m going to give that hug. I’m a give that advice. I’m going to do what I know what I can to help.”

Opportunity Youth partners with non-profits, including grassroots groups, that already have summer activities geared toward helping at high-risk youth. The city and Mayor Indya Kincannon allocated $1 million for violence prevention efforts. The city moved $200,000 to offer grants, up to $20,000, to 13 groups.

The pressure is on for teens to pick up a skill instead of a gun.

Hundreds of kids have the opportunity to get paid this summer.

Across the city, the kids are getting a chance to learn life skills from gardening, sewing and how to be an entrepreneur.

The director with MCA Sports Association told WVLT News the group is still hoping to fill more junior coaches as part of the program.

The groups receiving funding from the pilot program are as follows:

The Bottom: $17,840

Safe Haven: $11,380

Canvas Can Do Miracles: $15,336

YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley: $19,886

Battlefield Farms: $8,437.48

Penultimate Development: $20,000

Drums Up Guns Down: $20,000

The 5th Woman: $6,500

Sols Write House: $20,000

SEEED Knox: $20,000

Karate Five Association: $13,533.33

MCA Sports Association: $13,533.33

Mynark Tribe: $13,533.33

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