Louisville using federal funds to launch anti-violence social me - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville using federal funds to launch anti-violence social media campaign

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They tweet, like and share their lives with the world. 

"It's somewhat of a different mind set with today's youth," Right Turn Mentor Aubrey Williams said.

A new grant for the University of Louisville aims to reach troubled kids where they are -- on social media. 

A $5.7 million grant will form the U of L Youth Violence Prevention Research Center. The federal government is now looking at youth violence as a public health issue. 

The money will help hire about a 10-person team to develop a campaign on social media aimed at reaching troubled kids and getting them into community programs. It's part of a five year study.

"Infuse some confidence in young people to counter the message that's out there related to what it means to be a young African-American," program coordinator Monique Ingram said.

It's a message Aubrey Williams knows well. 

"A lot of what we see about being a black male in the inner city says you have to be hard and a thug." said Williams.

He works now helping lost teens and said he was once one of them.

"Kind of went into a downward spiral," Williams said. "Got shot and almost died at the age of 18."

In the last three years, Louisville has introduced several second chance, job training and juvenile offender programs. But murders are up -- 71 and counting this year. And nearly half of the city's shooting victims are under 25. 

"I think you answered your own question, you need new ways -- different ways -- to communicate with people," Mayor Greg Fischer said. "We don't have a broad range social media type of program of communication that has this kind of depth."

U of L will house the new program at the Louisville Central Community Centers office in the heart of the Russel Neighborhood, the community that's seen the most shootings this year. 

"It's not going to solve and fix it all, but I definitely think it will help," said WIlliams. 

The five year grant from the CDC will also fund research. 

If U of L's successful reaching juvenile offenders and cutting crime, the program could be replicated across the country. 

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