Program that helps at-risk youth in danger - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Lack of funding threatens at-risk youth program Street Academy

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- From problem children to future leaders. That is the goal of a local program. 

Street Academy targets at-risk youth in order to reach them before the streets and gangs get to them.  But a lack of funding is putting the program in jeopardy.

15-year-old Elliott Kelly is a graduate of the program. He may be a little soft spoken, but he is a vociferous reader with big dreams and ambitions.

"It has really helped me in my life, even to this day," said Kelly.

Kelly says his reading skills and confidence came from the two years he spent in Street Academy. The program targets boys ages 9 to 12, attending Jefferson County Public Schools.

"I learned how to speak -- just how to respect people, things that you need to go through in life," Kelly said.

The program was started in 2005 by the late Rev. Louis Coleman and Dr. Joseph McMillan.

"They were the ones who went to the superintendent at that time to discuss a program that can actually help boys, African American boys in the west end of Louisville," said Kevin Garner, assistant principal at Shacklette Elementary School and lead teacher for Street Academy.

Garner explains why the students are considered at-risk: "What I mean by at risk is students who may have some difficulty in school with making the right choices, having some behavior concerns."

Garner says these days there's a new concern.

"It would be great if we could get a little extra funding."

Since 2005, the program has helped hundreds of at-risk youth, but Garner says the lack of funding is jeopardizing its future.

"One of the things that we really want to be able to do is to not have this program stop but what we also want to do is having in more places."

"It has just helped me feel confident about myself," said Kelly.

Kelly hopes Street Academy will continue to be a confidence builder despite the funding issues.  "It is very sad to hear because a lot of children benefited from the program."

This Saturday is orientation for the program. Organizers are hoping it won't be the last.

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