Nonprofits plan to tackle violence after receiving money from city’s bailout law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Community organizations are taking the lead in addressing violence in Little Rock.

The Little Rock City Board of Directors recently approved a $1.5 million bailout bill, giving money to 11 different organizations that will work to slow the violence in the city.

Unity Martial Arts was one of 11 winners this week. The owners say they will use the money to get the program out of the doors of the Dojo.

“[To take a class] you have to be driven, you have to be able to pay your dues. The more we can remove these barriers, the more people we can reach who come from a place of instability,” said Tanner Critz, owner of Unity Martial Arts.

The company received $28,500 from the city this week. They say the plan is to use it to create an after-school program at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary.

“We can have the most impact when we start younger,” Critz said.

Critz says that with the help of teachers and staff, 30 “high-risk” children will be chosen to participate in the program.

Critz says the goal is to teach kids how to properly handle conflict and give them the stability they may be missing.

“Even if everything else in the world is a swirling storm, if they know their Dojo is stable and their Sensi is stable, they can count on something,” Critz said.

Critz says the program will be able to reach children left in the shadows, hoping that a look in the mirror will show them that there is more potential than meets the eye.

“It gives you the confidence to know that you can walk away from violence, safely,” said Unity Martial Arts instructor Christopher Perry.

The owners say they hope to have the program at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary by the start of the school year next fall.

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