Juvenile crime is a big problem in the Quad-Cities. Now, a big grant will help a local organization put at-risk kids on the right path.
That money is going to the Safer Foundation. An 18-year-old credits it for helping him make it to college.
Dakota Klemme is studying to be a certified nursing aid. He had a few brushes with the law in the past.
A few of his friends are still behind bars.
The Safer Foundation, which has two offices in Chicago and one in Davenport, has received a $3.5 million grant from the Department of Labor to help even more young people like Dakota, who has finally found team support for his success.
While he was growing up, Dakota Klemme dealt with many family issues and didn’t get the support he needed at home. This lack of encouragement ended up getting him arrested, he says.
Now that he has earned his GED, he wishes some of the other young people he knew would reconsider their actions.
“I want them to take a step back out of reality and look at the thing they are doing, their actions, and ask themselves if that’s how they want to do things,” Dakota said. “If it’s a no, they should definitely reconsider what they are doing, and try to find a team as I have found.”
He says the community can help too, by sharing the word about the Safer Foundation and the importance of education.
“Safer is really good for the kids who are not going down the right path,” Dakota said. “It’s a way to give those kids who don’t have very much, such as support and stuff like that, to get their support.”
Now Dakota knows he can succeed and make more out of his life than he had imagined.
“I didn’t think I was going to do much in my life,” he said. “I thought I was going to be in a factory job after I got my GED. Once I actually started participating in classes and realizing what they had to offer for me, I took advantage, I took full advantage.”
Dakota realized he wanted to make a real living, and needed an education to do that. He wishes his friends had the same support he does.
“It’s disappointing to me,” he said. “I have a lot of friends who are going down the wrong path who happen to be in jail at the moment. It’s unfortunate. They were all very bright kids, they could all have done so well if they had just had the right support and the right team.”
Now, maybe the grant will help some of those young people do just that.
“It is going to expand opportunities in our community for young adults, 18-24 years of age,” said Sue Davison, director for the Safer Foundation in Davenport. “This will target young people on both sides of the river. That is unique for us.”
Dakota says he hopes anyone who is going down the wrong path will give the Safer Foundation a chance to help them turn away from a life of crime.
To find out more the Safer Foundation or to volunteer, visit here.