PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCILMEMBER KENYATTA JOHNSON AND COMMUNITY GROUPS URGE INCLUSION OF FUNDING IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2024 BUDGET TO SUPPORT HIS “SAVE OUR YOUTH” PLAN

In Featured, Kenyatta Johnson, News by Khara Garcia

(PHILADELPHIA, PA. June 6, 2023) – Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District), elected officials and community groups are pushing for the inclusion of funding in the proposed City of Philadelphia Fiscal Year 2024 (FY ‘24) Operating Budget to support his “Save Our Youth” plan.

The goal of the Save Our Youth budget plan is to prioritize funding for youth and anti-violence programming in the FY ‘24 budget. Supporting youth and anti-violence programming will ensure that our city’s young people have meaningful opportunities to develop as young adults and will ensure Philadelphia has the tools to combat the epidemic of violence among our young people.

“Adolescence is a crucial period of personal growth, and it is imperative we provide our city’s young people with the necessary skills, resources, and support that they need as they develop into adulthood.” Johnson said. “By investing in preventive programs, we can equip young people with the tools they need to make positive choices, resolve conflicts peacefully, and develop crucial life skills that contribute to their overall success and well-being.

“The employment and job-training programs included in this plan will lay the foundation for the future success of our city’s young people by providing economic security and fortifying social networks across their neighborhoods,” said Johnson, who is Chair of City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention. “These proposed investments will create dedicated, low-barrier job opportunities for young people who are most at risk of gun violence, including guaranteed employment for youth in those neighborhoods that are most impacted by the gun violence epidemic. Young people are our most precious asset, and funding youth and anti-violence programming is an investment in the future.”

Councilmember Johnson, who represents parts of South and Southwest Philadelphia and Center City, is pushing for the following targeted investments as part of his Save Our Youth plan:

  • $5 Million funding increase to the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services (DBHIDS) for the Philadelphia ReCAST program, to promote resilient communities through evidence-based violence prevention programs and trauma-informed behavioral health services.
  • $6 Million funding increase to the Philadelphia Streets Department to support 200 additional positions in the Future Track Program, to assist young adults in developing the skills and experience necessary for professional success.
  • $10 Million funding increase to expand the WorkReady Youth Summer Jobs program, to ensure that all young people in Philadelphia have access to meaningful summer employment opportunities.
  • $5 Million in additional funding for School District of Philadelphia (SDP) behavioral health counselors and to expand access to trauma-informed programming and supportive services.
  • $5 Million in additional funding to expand the SDP’s Safe Paths Program (also known to many as the Safe Corridors program), to provide every child in Philadelphia with a safe and supportive school community.
  • $5 Million in additional funding for the PowerCorpsPHL Program, to prepare young people for careers in the Green Economy.
  • $3 Million in additional funding to DBHIDS to support expanding youth-centered, trauma-informed community programming.
  • $1 Million in additional funding for the City Year Philadelphia Program, to create more supportive school communities and develop civically engaged young adults

“Our city’s young people are in crisis and youth violence is a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and comprehensive solutions,” Johnson said. “By prioritizing these investments and providing sustained support for our city’s young people, we can make significant strides in creating safer, healthier, and more prosperous communities. I am urging my Council colleagues and Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration to support the ‘Save our Youth’ plan.”

Speaking at the press conference in support of the Save Our Youth funding plan was At-Large Councilmember Jim Harrity; Sharmain Matlock-Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition; Wendy-Anne Roberts-Johnson, President and CEO, The Philadelphia Youth Network, which oversees the WorkReady Youth summer job program; Julia Hilengas, Co-Founder and Executive Director of PowerCorpsPHL; Darryl Bundrige, Executive Director and Senior Vice President, City Year Philadelphia; Kevin Bethel, Chief of School Safety at The School District of Philadelphia; and Dr. Marquita C. Williams, Ph.D., Senior Executive Advisor to the Commissioner, DBHIDS.

“We are proud to support the Save Our Youth Plan,” said Sharmain Matlock-Turner, CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition. “As partners in the Summer Youth Employment Cabinet and in connecting Philadelphia youth to work opportunities, we know firsthand that positive first workforce experiences can change a young person’s life trajectory. Supporting youth is one of the most crucial ways to decrease crime in communities.”

“Each year for the past 25 years, City Year AmeriCorps members have been supporting thousands of Philadelphia students in their social-emotional learning and toward positive academic outcomes,” said Senior Vice President and Executive Director Darryl Bundrige of City Year Philadelphia. “Today, we stand with the Save Our Youth plan and our colleague organizations in prioritizing the safe space programming that our youth, families and communities need and deserve.”

“Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s Save Our Youth plan will invest critical funding in programs that are providing the city’s young people with a real chance to learn, grow, and thrive long into the future, said Adam Nagel, Director of Government Affairs for PennFuture. “PennFuture strongly supports this plan and the proposed funding increase for PowerCorpsPHL – Philadelphia’s long-standing model in youth violence prevention, workforce training and development, and environmental stewardship.”

As of June 6, Philadelphia City Councilmembers Mark Squilla (First District), Jamie R. Gauthier (Third District), Curtis Jones Jr. (Fourth District), Mike Driscoll (Sixth District), Quetcy M. Lozada (Seventh District), Cindy Bass (Eighth District), Anthony Phillips (Ninth District), Brian O’ Neill (Tenth District), Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large), Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Sharon A. Vaughn (At-Large), Jim Harrity (At-Large) and Isaiah Thomas (At-Large) are also supporting funding for the Save Our Youth plan.

City Council is expected to approve the City of Philadelphia’s FY ‘24 Operating Budget by the June 22 Council session, the final meeting before Council starts its summer recess. The Fiscal Year ‘24 operating budget must be approved by Council and signed into law by Mayor Jim Kenney by June 30.

Fiscal Year ‘24 will start on July 1,2023 and end on July 30, 2024, meaning it will stretch through the final six months of Mayor Kenney’s administration and the first six months of the next mayor, who will be sworn into office in January 2024.

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Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a former Pennsylvania State Representative represents the 2nd Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia, and Southwest Philadelphia. He is Chairman of City’s Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.

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