Local News

More than $2 million in Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed city budget for the next fiscal year would  go to improving youth development programs throughout Louisville.

The funds would support restorative justice programs, enhance the office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and increase hours and develop programs at community centers.

But the plan has critics.

Still, Anthony Smith, the director of the city’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, said it is a “move in the right direction” anytime resources can be added to youth development.

“You will see a lot of young people having better outcomes,” he said. 

The $2.2 million set to be directed to youth development is less than 1 percent of the proposed $553 million general fund budget, but Smith said it enables his department to stay “right on track.”

It’s needed, Smith says.

“We’ve got to be able to have youth development places where kids can go and get what they need,” he said.  “And being able to support those places supports our office.”

Read more about the budget proposal here.

Smith said the funds will also help make way for a new position in the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

But Eddie Woods, a longtime activist for at-risk youth in Louisville and co-founder of the LIFE Institute, said an impact could be made “with a lot less.”

“It’s just a question of how they apply it and what programs are implemented,” he said.  “They can’t keep doing the same programs, the usual suspects, all over again.  That has been the problem for decades.”

This and other expenditures in the mayor’s budget proposal will be the subject of Metro Council hearings beginning May 28. 

The $2.2 million for youth development will come from $6.8 million in additional revenue to city funds.

Here is a look at where the $2.2 million will go:

  • $1 million to help increase hours at community centers.
  • $1 million to fund community center programming.
  • $100,000 to fund restorative justice programs.
  • $75,000 to establish a coordinator of youth programs through the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.
  • $30,000 to support the Gentlemen’s Academy.

Christal Tribble, a 17-year-old  student who attends Louisville Day Treatment, said she was thrilled to learn about money specifically designated for programs that will aim to support youth development—but she wants to see the money put to good use.

“If you just try to start something and don’t stay with it, it will be the same as usual,” she said.

She said past programs have failed.

“They either didn’t go through with it or started it and didn’t finish it or they didn’t have the right amount of money,” she said.

Tribble said she would like to see programs developed that work to provide long-term engagement.

“You can do programs like the Big Brothers Big Sisters, or summer camp or just do stuff that would keep (teens) attention,” she said.

Smith said the  string of  violence on March 22 in downtown Louisville didn’t necessarily fuel the funding, but “helped highlight it.”

“I don’t think that one day was the catalyst, but that one day helped us look at things a little bit different,” he said.  “The best way to prevent violence is to help kids engage and help them get the best resources possible.”

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.