REimage program expands to give more LouisvilleKY youth a second chance, help prevent violence

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Initiative targets third west Louisville neighborhood, Park Hill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2016) – Mayor Greg Fischer and Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, director of the city’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, today announced the expansion of REImage, an initiative that helps stop the cycle of crime and violence by intervening with youth who have been charged with a crime or are at high risk of criminal behavior.

Over the next year, the program will work with up to 250 youth, ages 16-24, helping them stay in school, further their education, get a job, navigate the court system and address drug and alcohol issues.

“Connecting with these young people and giving them a second chance is not only the right thing to do, it’s a key part of our strategy for preventing violence and creating safer neighborhoods,” the Mayor said. “Connecting them to education and jobs increases their chance for success, while simultaneously reducing the odds that they will be further involved in crime and violence.”

Launched in September 2015 by the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, REimage has targeted youth in the Shawnee and Russell neighborhoods and is now expanding to include the Park Hill area.

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In its first year, REimage has worked with 109 youth, exceeding its enrollment goal. Among program participants, 52 were placed into jobs, 10 entered college or postsecondary training and 45 completed workforce education.

The Mayor started REimage to build on the work of two federally funded programs known as Right Turn and Right Turn 2.0, which began in 2014. With federal support for Right Turn having ended earlier this year, and funding for Right Turn 2.0 ending in 2017, Mayor Fischer and the Metro Council put $500,000 in the current city budget to continue a comprehensive intervention effort under the single name of REimage.

Since 2014, nearly 600 youth total have been served through Right Turn and REimage.

Abdur-Rahman said the key to the success of REimage is the direct contact youth participants have with the program’s case managers and adult volunteer mentors. The mentors help provide a strong role model in addition to helping young people set and meet personal goals related to education, jobs and family and personal issues.

“REimage is a great example of how we can sustain investments in our youth, and in a real way, support young folks who are trying to change their lives,” he said. “The commitment we are making to this program is very encouraging, and we need the help of businesses and employers who not only recognize the added value to our city, but understand how this is part of how we come together to secure a safer more vibrant community.”

To that end, he and the Mayor said, many more adult mentors are needed, and they urged people throughout the community to consider volunteering. All volunteers will be screened and trained. Individuals and organizations interested in mentoring should contact the Kentucky Youth Career Center at 574-4115 or apply online at kentuckianaworks.org.

Recruitment for REimage, which is run by KentuckianaWorks, will focus primarily on the Russell, Shawnee and Park Hill neighborhoods of west Louisville, although eligible youth from other areas across the community can also participate.

Youth are also referred to the program from the Department of Juvenile Justice, Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services, Department of Community-Based Services, the Louisville Public Defender, YMCA Safe Place, Kentucky Youth Career Center, Restorative Justice Louisville, local high schools and other partners.

Assistance with navigating the court system is provided to youth through a contract with the Legal Aid Society.

The original Right Turn program was funded by an Institution for Educational Leadership grant of nearly $750,000 awarded to KentuckianaWorks in 2013. Only four other organizations – in Nashville, Houston, Los Angeles and Lansing — received similar grants.

Right Turn 2.0 was funded by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

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