Organizers: Program for Inner-City Kids is Difference Between Life and Death

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- For the third year in a row, non-profit organizations are coming together to help some of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods.

"Doing More in the Core" is a 10-week summer program that will help nearly a dozen neighborhoods transform into neighborhoods of opportunity.

“It’s a place where from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., you know you’re safe,” said Stephen Williams, site coordinator for the Oakridge Neighborhood.

An after-school program keeps grade schoolers from the Oakridge Neighborhood busy. But as summer approaches, a lack of nighttime activities is concerning.

“That’s the gap time,” Williams said. “That’s where a lot of our kids usually get into trouble or find some difficulties.”

The project is designed to keep inner-city kids busy from the hours of 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and will target these neighborhoods: Carpenter, Drake Park, Mondamin Presidential, King Irving, River Bend, Cheatom Park, Capitol Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Capitol East and Oakridge.

“Police reports always talk about how there is a lot of violence that has something to do with youth during that time period,” said Deidre DeJear, an organizer for “Doing More in the Core.”

The 10-week summer activities program targets 10 of Des Moines poorest neighborhoods, and it's growing popularity.

The group is asking for neighborhood associations, local non-profits and community-based organizations to provide activities. Grants will be awarded to up to 10 organizations ranging from $500 to $1,500.

And that's what happened Wednesday. More than 30 non-profit organizations spent the day filling out applications for grants to sponsor neighborhoods.

“The school year takes care of it through Des Moines Public School then the community has to take a little bit of responsibility during the summer time because one entity cannot do it all,” DeJear said.

Organizers say programs like these can mean a difference between life and death.

“Everybody’s home situation isn’t the best. Giving them an opportunity or a place to go or services that they can benefit from or learn from may help save a life,” Williams said.

These little lives have big dreams.

Of the 30 non-profit organizations applying for the grant, the program can only accept 10 of them.

The program is open and free to children of all ages. It starts June 13 and ends Aug. 15.

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