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Running Rebels make progress to recoup big funding cut

A community organization dedicated to empowering the city's at-risk youth is overcoming its own setback.

The Running Rebels learned late last year it was losing $40,000 in funding, but now, its raised half of that back thanks to private donors and the city. Co-executive director Dawn Barnett said there is still work to be done, but giving up is never an option.

\"Either way we're going to do the work we do,\" she said. \"All we can do is keep trying.\"

Breaking the cycle of bad decisions starts at the Running Rebels, even if it is just playing a game of pool. Muse Mohamed, 13, knows he'd be getting into trouble on the streets if he wasn't.

\"Everyday on the news you hear something bad and un-positive,\" he said. \"When you come here, all you see is positivity and the people around you are positive, so it makes you feel safer and happier.\"

Tutoring, athletics and mentoring are just some of the support activities 1,500 kids a year take advantage of through the organization's after school program.

\"It's better for my future and giving me a brighter future,\" Mohamed said.

Others are ordered to come as an alternative to juvenile detention.

\"We've had individuals who may have been facing 20 years and have ended up getting a second chance and graduating from Tuskegee and becoming an engineer,\" continued Barnett.

It's that transformation Barnett hopes gives hope to the city at time when fear and finger-pointing have distracted the community from solution to the violence.

\"Martin Luther King had a quote, where it's no longer a choice between violence and non-violence,\" she recalled. \"It's a choice between non-violence and non-existence and I think that's where we are today. It's not going to take just one organization. Running Rebels is extremely proud of the work that we do with young people, but we can't do it by ourselves either.\"

You can learn more about the Running Rebels and make donation to its after school programs by visiting its website.

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