Little Rock city board considering awarding $1 million to organizations

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The Little Rock city board members met tonight to discuss possibly awarding just over nine million dollars to nine organizations that focus on at-risk youth.

"They're very significant and most of the teens that we talk about are the teens potentially commit crimes in our city," said Robert Webb, a community activist.

It's a goal the city of Little Rock has had for decades, to address one of the highest crime rates in the country which are committed mostly by young men. Webb says it's always challenging to get the necessary funds.

"A lot of people don't want to give money to programs that support Black males," said Webb. "But when these programs don't get the funding from the city a majority of them die."

Nine youth intervention programs (YIP), which are scattered throughout the city, will likely receive over one million dollars. The contracts are approved every three years and are heavily scrutinized by the board.

"Just whether YIP is the right initiative focusing these resources the way that we do," said Dr. Steve Perry. "All those are questions that come up regularly."

But Dr. Perry says a successful track record, especially since the last term which ended in 2012, proves that these organizations do have an impact.

"These resources have leveled the playing field to make sure that those opportunities are there," said Dr. Perry.

Dr. Perry says it's an award everyone should be happy about because crime is an issue that affects the whole city.

"The whole city its health is only as good as the most challenged parts of our community," said Dr. Perry.

The city deferred the decision in Tuesday night's board meeting. They will make a decision Tuesday the 26th. If the contracts are approved the city's contract with these organizations will expire February of next year and they may be extended twice if their performance is satisfactory.