Knoxville nonprofit focused on supporting young people amid growing violence

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Police are still trying to solve the weekend murder of a Knoxville teen. Austin-East student John John Mathis was shot and killed early Sunday morning in Lonsdale.

On Wednesday morning, Knoxville Police said they had received 11 tips about the crime, though they say a crowd of hundreds was at the scene. It’s sadly not the first time we’ve seen a young life lost to gunfire in recent months. But one Knoxville non-profit is trying to make a change by being proactive, not reactive.

“SEEED stands for socially equal energy-efficient development. We train inner-city youth on green technology,” said SEEED Executive Director Stan Johnson. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job, so we believe that if we can get these young people some jobs, that might help us get them out of these streets.”

SEEED is working to target violence by giving teens and young adults career skills and hands-on experience. The conversation is spotlighted after recent shootings with young, teenage victims.

Johnson is hearing this from their peers: “The biggest feedback I’m getting is that they are sick and tired of it. Because they’re looking at the adults and saying where are kids getting guns from?”

That’s why he’s focused on helping kids, teaching and guiding them, and giving them the opportunity to create their own cycle of purpose and achievement.

“We do life skills, job skills and placement skills. We want to meet the young people where they are at,” Johnson said. “I resort back to talking about poverty, looking through all of our communities in this country, and that’s where you are going to find most of your violent crimes. If we start really focusing on how people are living inside of poverty, we can actually start helping that process.”

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