When Kirk Berry founded the KB Foundation six years ago, he wanted to expose young men to fun learning opportunities and teach them life skills.
“The reason why I created it was because I thought it wasn’t fair for young people not to experience things like overnight camp and learn and have fun,” he said.
His foundation is one of seven organizations that received $207,851 in violence prevention grants from District Attorney Larry Krasner. KB Foundation was awarded a $5,000 grant.
“When you talk about gun violence prevention, I’m playing the long game,” Berry said during a press conference held Monday at Yesha Ministries in South Philadelphia.
“Where if you take a young man when he’s 11 and you work with him until he’s 17, you won’t have a group of 17- to 25-year-olds that are committing crimes. You’ll have a group of 17-year-olds that are looking toward getting jobs.”
The other grantees are Eddie’s House, which received $41,184; the Education Culture Opportunities (ECO) Foundation, $50,000; EYEKONZ Sports League, $16,667; Fathership Foundation, $30,000; Rock to the Future, $50,000; and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, $10,000.
Jonathan Wilson Jr., executive director of the Fathership Foundation, highlighted how his organization helps men through its workforce development programs.
“The work that we do is every important,” Wilson said. “What we pride ourselves on doing is moving guys from the non-skilled labor sector to the skilled labor sector. It really helps out a lot because guys that are making money don’t shoot each other.”
Krasner said the city must spend money on violence prevention. He said the DA office has pushed out $740,751 to 29 organizations to date.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) hailed Krasner for investing in the seven community-based organizations.
“This particular initiative shows that we have to invest on the front end,” Johnson said. “The reason why we see so much violence inside of our communities — particularly Black and brown communities — is from a significant amount of years of disinvestment.”
During the press conference, Krasner provided an update on gun violence. On Sunday, a man died during a triple shooting involving three 24-year-old victims on the 5100 block of Germantown Avenue. No arrests had been made and the investigation is open.
To date this year, Philadelphia has experienced 372 homicides. Krasner said that was 17% higher than the 319 homicides at the same time last year. He said the number of gun violence incidents is going down, noting that Philadelphia was seeing an average of 10.5 homicides per week since the pandemic began last year. During last week there were five homicides.
“Now that we’ve seen certain aspects of society open up, despite these variants and the threats that they present, I would say that there is reason for hope and that we should be somewhat hopeful that we’re seeing improvement,” Krasner said.
“Three homicides a week, five homicides a week, these are the kinds of numbers of homicides that we saw during the best periods in the city.”
There was 24 non-fatal shootings from Sept. 4 through Sept. 10 and 178 gun-violence incidents.
Krasner had a warning for those seeking to pick up a gun.
“Anyone who is thinking about picking up a gun … don’t,” he said. “Please understand how effective my office is at obtaining convictions for people who are arrested on solid cases.”