Khnemu Foundation mentoring youth to keep them away from crime

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -As new initiatives are launched by the City of Cleveland to fight violence, mentors are hoping to reach kids before they get involved in crime.

The Khnemu Foundation on the city’s eastside is helping young men thrive in their community.

“We mentor them out of pocket through volunteers, we do clean ups and conversations, we do political education so they understand how the system works and know how to work within the system,” founder Fred Ward said.

The number of juveniles committing crimes and being locked up for them has been on the rise.

Ward works towards breaking the chain by addressing the needs and trauma of these young men.

“I look at a lot of these young men, the Kia boys, and all that,” Ward said. “It’s the why. It ain’t “what” they did. It’s the why they did it.”

Ward uses his own experience of incarceration to keep youth on the right path.

“My experience with incarceration was very transformative,” Ward said. “I first had to understand how did I come to think and look at the world I looked at it.”

He hopes an initiative on the November ballot that could address some of his mentees needs passes.

The People’s Budget would allow residents as young as 13 to have a say in how the city spends part of the budget.

Ward said that funding could be a vital investment in mentors and organizations trying to create change in the city’s neighborhoods.

“That $14 million, I know a lot of organizations if they had access to those funds they would be able to do amazing things on top of what they are already doing out of their own pocket,” Ward said.

Ward will continue to inspire these young men to hopefully change the outcomes of their lives.

“One of the things I tell them is that if we all we got, then we got to be all we need because losing ain’t an option,” Ward said. “Just because you might have done that don’t mean that you have to stay that.”