WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After an increase in violent crime this past Spring, a West Palm Beach north end community is springing into action to stop gun violence.
It’s called 'Free and Alive by 25,' and the goal is to keep young men of all ages from committing crimes.
In the north end of West Palm Beach, violent crime has become a bit of a cautionary tale.
"One in three black boys will spend some time in prison at some point in their lifetime," said Ricky Aiken, the founder of Inner City Innovators.
Aiken is trying to change that narrative.
"We want to do everything we can do to keep our young men out of prison and out of an early grave," Aiken said.
Inner City Innovators is a non-profit group that helps get young men get on the right path. This wasn’t WPTV’s first time talking with Aiken about his mission, but after four years he’s expanding his message and his partnerships.
"The owner of Harold’s Coffee Shop, he wrote a check that is most of what we are going to use to fulfill our programming throughout the summer," Aiken said.
For the first time, neighborhoods facing similar issues are forming one community.
"I believe that it’s going to help because he’s getting to people before they run out of options," said Joseph Torralba, the manager at Harold’s Coffee Shop. "He’s helping people before they get to a point where they can’t really come back."
Aiken said around 17 young men have signed up for the program. It will kick off with a community march and barbecue this Saturday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m. at Coleman Park, located at 1116 21st St. in West Palm Beach.