Local nonprofits ask for $6M to help with violence prevention in Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Following a string of violent crimes in Knoxville over the past few months, local community outreach organizations are seeking money to continue their violence interruption and prevention work in the city. 

City leadership has announced that money is being sought out through grants and $1 million dollars has already been set aside to be dedicated to violence interruption, but the smaller organizations want to make sure they get their piece of the pie.

Money is what brought Jackie Holloway to a press conference on a Monday evening.

“I would probably need about a million dollars,” Holloway said. “I’m looking to support our programs with an event center. So I’ve been looking at a building on Magnolia and the asking price is $800,000.”

Jackie is the founder of Canvas Can Do Miracles, a nonprofit that helps children and adults use art as therapy. She says the program keeps them out of trouble and creates a pathway to self-sufficiency.

Of all the people she’s helped through her outreach, there was one she couldn’t save: Her cousin, 15-year-old Justin Taylor, who was shot and killed in January. He was the first Austin-East Magnet High School student killed by gun violence this year.

Knox County Schools had confirmed to WATE 6 On Your Side that the victim in the Jan. 27 fatal shooting to be Justin Taylor.

“His mother came to me around 2016 when we were out of money and didn’t have a building and she asked was there anything that Justin could come and do to get him out of the streets and I didn’t have anything at the time and I feel like my program could have saved his life,” Holloway said. 

Justin’s death pushed Jackie to try even harder for funding. Her program is free to all, but free still comes at a price. To continue her outreach, Jackie needs financial help.

She says she’s tried applying to grants over the years but she’s repeatedly denied, and the money goes to larger, better-known organizations. 

“It’s kind of frustrating to want to help our community, to help our children and know that you’re qualified to get these grants, but you’re overlooked,” Holloway said. 

Canvas Can Do Miracles is just one of several local organizations who want to help stop the violence in the city but lack the funds. D.U.E., Mynark Tribe, and Knoxville HEART were some of the other organizations present, requesting help from the city, Knoxville city councilwoman Seema Singh was there to help advocate for these organizations.

“We came together to say to the mayor we’re here, you asked for community led and we’re responding. But we need some funds to do that. There are funds available, let’s do this right,” Singh said. “I’m asking for six million and this is to go to many more community groups, many more therapists, behavioral healthcare, all the things we need to heal, to tend to our people, to take care of our people and prevent this violence instead of reacting to it.”

The city budget hearings start March 23. Mayor Indya Kincannon is expected to hear the needs of each department over the next few days before approving the final budget.

Leaders of these organizations say they hope she’s listening to them too.

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