the change center will create healthy, vital community where life is valued, where youth are safe, and where hope is real.
We want to seek peace. Seeking peace is proactive, and people of goodwill of every ethnicity care about the impact of violence on African-American males and their communities.
Prayer is powerful, and God’s people must pray. But God also expects His people to partner with Him by taking action to bring about change in our community. Through entrepreneurial mentorship, recreational programs, and the establishment of a safe place, The Change Center will create opportunities for at-risk youth.
mission for change
The Change Center will be a safe, strategically located, center-city partnership facility that provides relational, recreational, leadership development, and job initiatives for youth and young adults.
cry for change
Knoxville is the largest city in East Tennessee, the principal city of the Knoxville Metro Area, and the third-largest city in Tennessee. 52.0% of Knoxville’s population are female, 76.1% are white, 17.1% are Black or African American, and 87.7% are high school graduates. 23.1% live below the poverty line.
The buffer zone map for The Change Center includes the following zip codes: 37902, 37909, 37912, 37914, 37915, 37916, 37917, 37918, 37919, 37920 and 37921. The United States Census Bureau reports that 34% of the people living in the buffer zone area are female, 29% are white, and 68% are Black or African American. The high school graduation rate in the buffer zone is 87 percent and 23 percent of the citizens live in poverty.
The Knoxville Police Department Crime Analysis Unit conducted a violent crime study within the City of Knoxville from 2011 to 2013. The study showed a 4.95% increase in crimes against persons involving a weapon from 2011 to 2012, and a 4.63% decrease from 2012 to 2013. Murder with a firearm increased 40% from 2011 to 2013, and the number of black offenders using a firearm to commit murder increased 140%. There were 18 murders in both 2011 and 2012, and 19 in 2013.
The offenders are getting younger. In 2013, 42% of the murders committed with a firearm were committed by offenders between the ages of 18 and 24. In 2012, 22% of murders committed with a firearm were committed by persons between 18 to 24 years old. Ninety percent of the murders committed with a firearm in 2012 were black offenders shooting black victims.
The buffer zone map on page six represents a 3.25 mile radius around The Change Center located in the heart of the intercity area. Within a five year period (2011-2015), an astounding 76% of all homicides occurred within the buffer zone. Within the Project Change buffer zone during the five year period, 70% of the robberies and 56% of the aggravated assaults occurred.
A firearm was used to commit 85% of the homicides that occurred in the buffer zone during the five year period. Young African American males between the ages of 18 and 24 committed a murder with a firearm in 91% of the homicides within the buffer zone. Of the 91% of the homicides committed by African American males, 86% of the victims were African American male.
The Change Center was birthed out of the Save Our Sons Initiative under Mayor Rogero, which focuses on reducing violence-related deaths and increasing opportunities for success among boys and young men of color. Save Our sons is part of a larger national network of mayors called Cities United and is also a supporting program of the White House Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper.
The Change Center seeks to counteract the sense of hopelessness that has settled over the inner city. To that end, it will help to fill entertainment and opportunity gaps in the target area. Many African-American youth currently have to leave their neighborhood to go to the movies, go skating, or go to a nice park.
And as businesses have left, so have jobs. Those who have made bad choices feel like they can’t get a second chance. We thus see a need within the inner-city community for clear pathways to the acquisition of marketable skills, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities that can provide sustainable income. We believe that good jobs can trigger positive change, which in turn contributes to the restoration of hope.
The Change Center will be the nucleus for this type of deliberate action.