FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced significant funding aimed at preventing violence Wednesday afternoon.
The Kentucky mayors made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at Kentucky State University. More than five million dollars in new funding will go toward efforts to prevent violence and to aid young black men and boys in Kentucky's two largest cities.
"We as a country have not been doing everything that we possibly can to stop the death of young men of color in our cities. This announcement today is part of changing that," explained Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
The pilot program will focus on re-entry, selecting young men who have had an encounter with the justice system. Participants will receive housing, education, counseling, legal services, and a year long curriculum centered around leadership.
Officials in each city will choose 20 young men to take part in the Thrive program per year. The fellowships will encourage young black men and boys aged 16-25 to invest in their futures and offer opportunities for education, jobs, and careers combined with leadership development and mentoring support. The mayors said that young people would be selected for the program based on their potential and need.
Their goal is to prepare a total of 120 young black men to be the next generation of leaders in the community.
"I think a program like this is needed more than ever perhaps in our entire history," said David Cozart.
Cozart is the founder of the Fayette County Fatherhood Initiative. He says that enhancing an individual's life outcome is important to everyone.
"All of our young men are men of promise, and if given those opportunities and the right resources they will end up in highly successful positions and places in life."
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says sometimes all a young person needs is for someone to invest, which is what this program will do.
"When we invest in our young people we invest in a brighter future for all of our citizens. Our cities simply can't afford to lose the unlimited potential of our young black men," said Mayor Gray.
Lexington police have worked 11 homicides this year. Meanwhile, Louisville is looking at record highs with more than 60 homicides already this year.
The announcement was in conjunction with Cities United, a growing national movement of more than 100 mayors committed to addressing community violence.