Yesterday, I had the chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee with three members of a group I’d never heard of before, but I’m glad I do now.
They make up the leadership of Running Rebels, a 32-year-old vision of its founder, Victor Barnett. Along with his co-executive director and wife, Dawn, this publicly and privately funded group has helped thousands of Milwaukee kids at risk of gun violence.
Of course, the timing for meeting this group wasn’t coincidental. Today, Running Rebels’ Development and Marketing Coordinator Heather Aldrich kicked off an edgy marketing campaign centered around the slogan, "I can stop a speeding bullet."
It really is a success story that more Milwaukeeans should know about.
"My vision is to take the front line and try to connect it to the right resources," says Victor Barnett. "Milwaukee has always been a city where people care and want to fix problems. We have a really good opportunity to do that."
Alrdich says the Serve Marketing built the creative, and now it’s time to get the word out. "My job is to bring awareness, to tell the dozens of stories. You can’t fund programs that you don’t know about."
Indeed, the group has flown a little under the radar, but each year, Running Rebels helps about 2,500 intensively monitored students, many of whom have been court-ordered to join in lieu of juvenile detention. The others are voluntary sign ups, and Running Rebels helps through job training, basketball and other programs created to straighten kids out.
Dawn Barnett told me the one-year program has an incredible 80 percent success rate for youths 10-21, and many of the Running Rebels graduates remain in the program, in some way, for life.
"We have prevention and intervention programs," says Aldrich. "Gun violence is something that does get peoples’ attention, and if that’s the best way for us to bring attention to the organization, then we’ll do that."
"I can stop a speeding bullet doesn’t just mean to physical…Read more...