Lexington and Louisville have been awarded $5 million over the next three years to start leadership fellowship programs for young black men age 16 to 25.
The grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust is to start programs for teens and young men impacted by violence. The program is affiliated with Cities United, a nonprofit committed to addressing violence in more than 100 cities nationwide.
The fellowships will encourage leadership development and offer education and job support. The cities will partner with local nonprofits and other providers to serve up to 120 black teens and men over the next three years in both cities. Lexington will receive $700,000. The remaining money will go to Louisville.
The grant was announced Thursday at a press conference in Frankfort.
“When we invest in young people, we invest in a brighter future for our city,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. “In Lexington, we are making significant investments to identify and stamp out root causes of violence. This program, working at the individual level, will expand and support our efforts.”
Some of the providers Lexington will work with to develop and oversee the fellowship program include Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Fayette County Public Schools, the Fayette and Lexington Leadership Foundation, Fayette Circuit and District courts, Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board and the Urban League of Lexington.
Officials with Cities United said Lexington and Louisville were picked for the fellowship program because both cities have long-standing commitments to improving the lives of young black men and a history of innovative programs to address violence.
Lexington’s Commissioner of Social Services Chris Ford said Lexington’s fellowship program is in the planning stage. The first 20 Lexington fellows will be identified sometime next year. The fellowship program will begin in July 2018, with 60 fellows being named over the three years of the grant.