Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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In wake of police shooting, nonprofit geared to help at-risk youth

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TWC News: In wake of police shooting, nonprofit geared to help at-risk youth
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Around 800 people gathered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in East Austin Friday for the funeral of 20-year-old Bryon Carter Jr.

Carter Jr. was shot and killed by an Austin Police officer Monday, after investigators say he and a 16-year old friend were casing cars.

While people gathered to remember a young life cut short, local youth advocate Michael Lofton is working to prevent situations like Carter Jr.’s from happening again. Lofton runs the African-American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation.

He usually has at least 60 at-risk youth taking part in his mentoring program.

"A lot of kids are going to make mistakes," he said. "We will try to find kids that have problems with attendance, with behavioral problems and or academics."

The City of Austin supports Lofton’s program and recently awarded his foundation a $150,000 check to keep it going.

Lofton said he wishes he could have reached Carter Jr.

"When you hear a story of a young man, black African-American, losing his life on the streets, that has to impact you, it's gut wrenching. It's painful every time I see it," he said. “Had he been registered and part of a program, I'm sure the situation may have been different."

Lofton has plans to provide medical services on top of his mentoring program with the money he received from the city.

"To be able to bring a possible solution to a lot of the things we are seeing, you know, really makes me feel good," he said.

Lofton said once the expansion of his foundation is complete, 250 at-risk kids will be able to participate in his program.

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