Local group The Spot is the recipient of a $700,000 to support their work providing job training and other resources for youth who are at risk of being impacted by gun violence.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will allow more than 100 additional young people to access The Spot’s programs. Officials with The Spot said they currently serve around 500 kids per year, connecting them with jobs, stable housing and counseling, among other services. The programs are open to youth ages 16-24 who have experienced violence, poverty and other adverse childhood experiences.
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced the grant at a press conference Monday.
“We must do everything possible as a community to support our youth, our young adults, so that every child in our city has hope and opportunity,” Greenberg said. “That takes resources. That takes mentors. That takes programs.”
A recent report from the Greater Louisville Project found that young people were disproportionately involved in the city’s gun violence epidemic, both as victims and suspects. At the city’s first gun violence reduction town hall last week, many residents asked for more funding for youth programming and community centers.
The Spot is a partnership between the city and local nonprofits, including Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and Kentuckiana Works. Since 2009, they’ve connected nearly 2,000 young people with jobs and helped nearly 800 receive occupational skill credentials.
Cashmon Usher, 23, started working with staff at The Spot about a year ago. After leaving home when she was just 17, Usher said she found herself out of work and without stable housing.
“At that point I was tired and fed up,” she said. “Tired of starting over. Tired of not getting it right. Tired of asking for help.”
Usher took courses at The Spot that helped her professional development and taught her how to handle stress. She’s now an independent life insurance agent.
At Monday’s press conference, Usher thanked the program staff and Rick Calloway, one of her career coaches.
“He helped me navigate what I want to do in life,” she said. “He could also be just like an uncle. Just like everyone else here at The Spot, he’s seen and helped me grow.”
As part of the federal grant, young people leaving the downtown Louisville jail will also have access to the organization’s programs.
The Spot is currently housed in a Jefferson County Technical College building on West Chestnut Street. Goodwill CEO Rena Sharpe said Monday that the group’s partners are currently raising money to move The Spot into a larger location where they can serve more kids.