Initiative Focuses on Mentorship to Curb Dallas Crime

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A newly launched initiative to reduce crime in Dallas through mentorship has taken off in Pleasant Grove.

Earlier this month, Dallas city leaders heard a presentation on the Original Gangsters United Crime Prevention Program.

It’s a 21-day program that uses former gang members to mentor kids away from crime and into better futures.

Coy Poitier, the executive director of FAWC Conservatory of Arts and Sciences, was among the first graduates.

“Our partnership is with OGU as far as making sure these kids have a safe place to go, someone to mentor with them and just somebody to spend some time with them,” Poitier said.

In a small office on the bottom floor of an apartment complex along Bruton Road, he and his wife Katrina keep the doors open nearly seven days a week.

“A lot of times they go through a lot of stuff. They see a lot of stuff. They hear a lot of stuff. When they come through those doors, we want to create a place where they can just be kids,” Poitier said.

Among their regulars is seventh-grader King Martin.

Last June, Martin was with his friend Malik Tyler when the 13-year-old was hit by a stray bullet as they got caught in cross fire walking home from the corner store.

“I didn’t want to go outside no more, but they always check up on me,” Tyler said.

The Poitiers have also helped Tyler and the other kids in their care dream up futures beyond the gang violence that’s ravaged their community.

“When I was young in the 70s, I never thought I could be a part of NASA. I never thought I could be an astronaut. What we do for these kids, we tell them you can. You see what I’m saying. We give them an opportunity to see there’s other things,” Poitier said.

The FAWC is still working to get the funding necessary for its programs. The Poitiers said they’re committed to staying, even if that means digging into their own pockets to keep the doors open.

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