MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There have been growing concerns for youth committing crimes particularly car thefts and break-ins.
Memphis police have already reported nearly 2,000 stolen cars so far in 2023. City leaders said more than 100 kids and teens have been arrested for car thefts alone.
While concerns rise, so does the need to find solutions. One Memphis educator started a nonprofit to give youth more opportunities.
We talk about accountability and the need for more resources for our youth, but many in our community who want to see change now, are not waiting for it to happen. Instead, they are finding their own ways to meet kids’ needs.
Hundred across Memphis have fallen victim to car thefts and break-ins.
“My Jeep was stolen one night,” said Kimberly Jones, PCES Founder.
Jones is an educator who made that list not once but twice.
“They came back the same Friday to get my Jeep and my Challenger the same night,” said Jones. “I know it was kids because my son came home from college and he walked up on them. He was like, ‘Mama, they’re all teenagers.’”
Where Jones saw a problem, she also saw a solution.
“I want to see these kids be successful. I want to see these kids learn something that will take them further in life,” said Jones.
She owns Rusty Autohouse. After having her vehicles targeted, she decided to start a Youth STEM Automotive Summer Program.
“We will teach the students how to do basic oil change, how to change a tire, auto paint, auto body. Give them a trade and give them another way or means to make money outside of stealing and selling those things,” said Jones.
The program will run for five weeks.
“That would keep them out of the streets. Then, they’ll be held accountable for their actions,” said Jones. “Some crimes are committed during school hours because kids don’t want to be in school ... A lot of kids don’t like coming to school, but if you learn a trade and it’s something you’re interested in, you’ll stick with it.”
It is a sense of pride and passion in doing what is positive.
“You have to be smart child to program a key, to program an engine to start,” said Jones. “You can use that same mind to program and excel. You can us that same mind to program a computer. Guess what? You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re not out here getting a criminal history.”
Jones is also starting a summer literacy program for third, sixth, and ninth graders. She said she needs the help from the public to get students involved and provide scholarships. To sign up for the program, click HERE.