“There used to be a lot of drug trafficking here because it’s right off the freeway, and a lot of people knew about it,” said Holy Chea, an authority on local gangs. “Because of the substation, a lot of the crime has been dropping.”
Chea’s audience of about 20 people, shivering in the morning cold, included nine members of the Youth Philanthropy Board of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.
The young board members, ages 16 to 24, are part of an innovative violence-prevention model the Tacoma Community Foundation began last summer.
The program recognizes young people as experts on youth violence and gives them the authority to hand out grant money to make that violence go away.
This year, they’ll hand out $20,000, but the foundation’s long-term plan is to support the program with a $5 million endowment, giving the board $250,000 to disburse each year.
Saturday’s three-hour tour hit the hot spots for gang crime in Pierce County – sites of murders, stabbings, drive-by shootings and prostitution and places where drug deals go down.
The group cruised south to Parkland and Spanaway, through high-crime sections of Lakewood and through Tacoma’s South End and East Side.
One member of the Youth Philanthropy Board is Chris Jordan, a 20-year old visual artist and teacher at Fab-5, an education-centered Tacoma nonprofit organization that involves hip-hop musicians, dancers and other artists.
Jordan said he’s enthusiastic about the new foundation program because it “cuts out the middleman” by going straight to youths for answers.
“You look around at philanthropy, and you see that the decisions are made by people who are seasoned – you know, older – and may be disconnected in terms of what’s happening from a youth perspective,” Jordan said. “This way you’re getting the perspective of young people who understand what it’s like to be young.”
> Read the article on the Tacoma News Tribune