Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero announced his new initiative to help inner city youth of color this morning at city hall in Lansing.
His plan will integrate and coordinate the many existing programs in the Lansing community to establish a network to leverage Lansing's assets to impact young people of color through mentorship, educational achievement and other innovative building blocks of success.
Janene McIntyre thinks Lansing needs a turn around.
"I've made mistakes, and I was able to move beyond," McIntyre said. "I want the young people that have made some mistakes to know that it's not over."
McIntyre is the Lansing city attorney, and now part of the mayor's team that hopes to create a better future for young people of color. The mayor says people of color face bias in the criminal justice system, and are more likely to end up in jail or prison. And he wants to change that.
"The young people depend on us," McIntyre said. "So we have to be accountable to them, and be an example to them."
McIntyre along with nearly one hundred inner city youth gathered in city hall Wednesday to announce the mayor's new initiative. McIntyre says there's no one person or group to blame for the city's problems, such as more people of color being charged with crimes. That has jumped by nearly 50% in the past three years.
The mayor says kids in Lansing are facing substance abuse, school expulsions and other problems that can be pipelines to jail or prison. But he says his new initiative will bring programs together to keep Lansing youth on the right track.
"This is a grassroots initiative where this community is coming together to uplift our young people, to embrace our young people, to get on the front end of some of the problems that our young people, particularly young people of color, face in this community," Bernero said.
And McIntyre hopes the program will remind inner city kids of what's really important.
"Whatever your dreams are, you know they can come to fruition. Don't view them as being unrealistic or so out of your reach because of your circumstances."
She says if the kids and parents keep each other accountable, there's a safer future ahead.