Johnson prioritizes youth, anti-violence programs

Caption: City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, seen here at a previous political event, is lobbying for more of the city’s budget to be directed toward youth programs and safer streets. Photo/Mark Zimmaro
Caption: City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, seen here at a previous political event, is lobbying for more of the city’s budget to be directed toward youth programs and safer streets. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson is pushing to appropriate more of the city’s budget toward safer streets.

Johnson, who represents parts of South, Southwest and Center City, proposed the Save Our Youth plan and asked for support as the city prepares its Fiscal Year 2024 Operating Budget, which begins July 1.

Johnson’s goal is to prioritize funding for youth and anti-violence programming to ensure young people have meaningful opportunities to develop as young adults, while the city fights its ongoing epidemic of crime and violence. 

“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.”

Johnson’s plan asked for $40 million in targeted investments including:

  • $5 Million funding increase to the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services for the Philadelphia ReCAST program, to promote resilient communities through evidence-based violence prevention programs and trauma-informed behavioral health services.
  • A $6 million funding increase to the 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 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.

“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 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.”

Johnson spoke at a news conference in support of the Save Our Youth funding plan on June 6.

“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.”

Fellow South Philly Councilmember Mark Squilla backed the plan, along with Council members Jamie Gauthier, Curtis Jones Jr., Mike Driscoll, Quetcy M. Lozada, Cindy Bass, Anthony Phillips, Brian O’ Neill, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Sharon A. Vaughn, Jim Harrity and Isaiah Thomas.

Council is expected to approve the City of Philadelphia’s FY ‘24 Operating Budget by the June 22 Council session.