LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The Little Rock Board of Directors voted to award $200,000 to a local youth organization to help combat violence in the city.
Bridge 2 Success was awarded the $200,000 using of the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. proposed the funding along with another $800,000 to go to youth programs, a social work position and the creation of a community team of specialists used to combat youth violence.
This comes after a violent weekend that left 3 dead in Little Rock.
Only $200,000 has been approved as of Tuesday.
Ronald Wilkerson started the Bridge 2 Success program 10 years ago, and said he wanted to give kids a place to play, make friends and most importantly realize their potential.
“The first thing we’re trying to do is give them a safe space to come,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson’s program is offered during the week and is open to kids all the way up to 18.
“I think we have the opportunity to dig deeper into their lives and help resolve issues with themselves and others without violence,” Wilkerson said.
He says he also works with the older kids to find jobs and succeed in school.
Wilkerson says with the additional money, he’s going to help the city combat some of the violence between youth.
“If we don’t do it now, we may never have a chance to,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said he wants to use the extra money to hire extra staff to help get out into the community and meet kids where they are.
“What is it that they want out of life, what are their career goals, their aspirations and what can we do to help fulfill that here in their life,” Wilkerson said.
The City says it wants to focus on people ages 13-30, hoping to make a change early in life so fewer find themselves behind bars.