Knoxville’s Youth Agencies

In Cover Stories by S. Heather Duncanleave a COMMENT

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Save Our Sons seeks to partner with existing community organizations that serve at-risk young black men, from primary-school boys to ex-convicts. Here’s a selection of some you already know and some you might not, with contact information in case you need services or want to volunteer or donate to their efforts. For an even longer list or further information, see the City of Knoxville’s Save Our Sons website or call S.O.S. coordinator Jackie Clay at 865-215-2831.

100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville

220 Carrick St.
The nonprofit group focuses on mentoring black boys and young men in the areas of education, health and wellness, money, and conflict management.

Community Step-Up

1927 Dandridge Ave
Volunteer organization aiming to stop the cycle of recidivism by connecting people leaving jail with services such as housing and help with child support payments and paying fines. It also conducts community education workshops and identifies at-risk kids, helping them access mentorship opportunities and other supports. (Write c/o Dr. Joseph Kendrick, 4516 Asheville Highway.)

C.O.N.N.E.C.T Ministries

2340 Magnolia Ave.
C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries is a 10-year-old Christian ministry that serves more than 200 people a year through five programs to help youth, former convicts and veterans. Project Fresh Start provides at-risk youth with STEM through employment training, continuing education, personal development, and money management skills. C.O.N.N.E.C.T. is also one of the only agencies in Knoxville with a program to help people reintegrate into the community after serving time in jail, by connecting them with treatment, housing, and job placement services, among other supports.

Emerald Youth

1718 North Central St.
Longtime Christian-based youth ministry offers three core programs: Just Lead, a multi-church-based after-school program offering academic, health, and faith support to children from elementary through high school; the Emerald Sports program, offering a variety of sports leagues; and Emerald Youth Fellows, a mentorship and support program that guides high school seniors through the higher education process to their first job.

Girl Talk, Inc.

318 N. Gay St., Suite 101
Girl Talk is a faith-based nonprofit that focuses on mentoring at-risk girls. It introduces them to career and college opportunities to help them avoid the pitfalls of teen pregnancy and develop a strong sense of self-worth to lead them to success.

Project GRAD Knoxville

700 E. Hill Ave., Suite 100
Project GRAD Knoxville works with children from kindergarten through post-secondary education to increase the number of inner-city students graduating and completing higher education. The program works with 14 Knox County schools and their students by providing career and college coaching plus social service support.

Thrive Lonsdale

1317 Connecticut Ave.
Thrive Lonsdale is a free Christian after-school and mentoring program based in the Lonsdale neighborhood, where it also runs a community garden. The program provides snacks, dinner, transportation, and tutoring to the children, as well as access to playing on community sports teams.

UUNIK Academy

P.O. Box 5872, Knoxville, TN 37928
UUNIK is a nonprofit program that meets at the Technology Cooperative at Emory Place once a week and also offers tutoring, counseling, and workshops to teach African American youth age 10-15 academic, leadership, and life skills. Its leaders intend for it to become a full-time after-school program.

Related Stories:

Can Knoxville’s ‘Save Our Sons’ Program Fulfill Its Mission?

What Are Knoxville’s Gangs Like?

Featured photo: Emerald Youth partnered with the city to run the refurbished pool at the E.V. Davidson Recreation Center, where all kids in Emerald Youth after-school programs learn to swim. Photo by Shawn Poynter.

S. Heather Duncan has won numerous awards for her feature writing and coverage of the environment, government, education, business and local history during her 15-year reporting career. Originally from Western North Carolina, Heather has worked for Radio Free Europe, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London, and several daily newspapers. Heather spent almost a dozen years at The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., where she spent most of her time covering the environment or writing project-investigations that provoked changes such as new laws related to day care and the protection of environmentally-sensitive lands. You can reach Heather at

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