OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – The City of Opelika has received a grant to help troubled young people in the community. Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs have awarded the city a $28,000 grant to fund the city’s Youth Incarceration Prevention Project pilot program.
“We are proactively working to address concerns about how all citizens are treated in Opelika, including our young people, they are our future,” says Mayor Gary Fuller
The Youth Incarceration Prevention Project or YIPP is an initiative that officials say will stem the growing tide of youth, predominantly low income and minority, from either going to or returning to prison.
This project is a result of the Opelika Commission on Crime and Violence created in 2018 by Mayor Gary Fuller.
Officials say the implementation of projects such as YIPP will make Opelika and Lee County safer for all of our citizens and will give many in need an opportunity to improve their lives.
“This program is going to make a positive impact in the lives of youth in our community. Adolescence is such a period of development between childhood and adulthood. If we can connect with troubled youth and give them other outlets and opportunities, then we may be able to help them turn their lives around for the better,” says Mayor Fuller.
According to officials, the YIPP program is important because on average, 83 percent of youth offenders age 16-24 will return to prison.
YIPP addresses youth offender behavioral health issues such as substance abuse, provides educational training so youth graduate from high school or earn a GED, and also provides job skills training and an opportunity to get a good paying job in Lee County. YIPP is supported by the Lee County Youth Court, area nonprofits, colleges and churches.