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One America - Inner Strength, Inc.

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One America

Program: Inner Strength, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Contact(s): Valdimir Joseph, Executive Director: (404) 335-0461
Purpose: To help young men find positive alternatives to gang life, crime and other inner-city problems

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Motivated by his personal encounters with homelessness, poverty, and gang life, a student at Morehouse College, Val Joseph, founded Inner Strength in 1994, an anti-gang initiative located in Atlanta. Joseph made a commitment to help young men reach their full academic and social potential. Inner Strength's first members were 10 young men recruited from area housing projects and street corners. Volunteers assisted with tutoring, mentoring, and guiding these young men into adulthood, a stage of life many felt they would never reach. Today, Inner Strength is located in the Atlanta University Center, a network of historically black colleges and universities in Atlanta.

Program Operations

Inner Strength is a completely volunteer-based organization that works with high-risk and academically challenged urban youth. Inner Strength recruits young men between the ages of 12-21 on the street and through referrals from area schools, juvenile courts, and other programs. Volunteers from surrounding colleges and universities provide tutoring, SAT and GED preparation and mentoring. Participants are exposed to both academic and physical challenges, such as hiking, camping, reading and leadership development. Students also receive training in health and social issues, including pregnancy and STD prevention, conflict resolution and violence prevention. In addition, the young men attend job interview training sessions, job fairs, and college tours. Inner Strength provides a save haven for open discussion, where participants often discuss topics that are taboo in their homes.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

An evaluation of the program indicates that there has been an increase in school attendance and a decrease in drop-out rates and relapses into the juvenile and adult justice systems. The program has touched the lives of over 150 young men. In 1998, Inner Strength helped two former high school dropouts to graduate from high school. Visit INNERSTREN@aol.com to find out more about the program.

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