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Walmart Supports Youth Criminal Justice Intervention Initiative

L&J Empowerment Announces Grant to Support New Arkansas-Based,

Youth Criminal Justice Intervention Initiative

$450,000 Grant Aims to Help Break the Cycle of Poverty and Incarceration

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 21, 2023 – Today, L&J Empowerment is excited to announce a $450,000 grant from the Center for Racial Equity through the Walmart Foundation to support its new project, the Arkansas Barbershop Network for Youth Criminal Justice Prevention: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Incarceration. The program’s mission is to help prevent at-risk youth across Arkansas from entering the juvenile justice system through education and by providing opportunities for them to live healthier and make more responsible choices for a brighter future.

The project will target youth aged 14-21 and provide holistic care, job skills training, and other essential benefits, such as healthy decision-making and communication skills.

Incarcerated at the age of 17, Lorenzo Lewis, the Co-Founder of L&J Empowerment, intimately understands what is at stake when there is a lack of support and effective programs for at-risk youth.

“L&J Empowerment is committed to changing the narrative for youth and young adults at the greatest risk of involvement with the criminal justice system in the State of Arkansas and across the South. We are honored to work with the Walmart Foundation to make this a reality,” said Lewis. “With the launch of the Arkansas Barbershop Network for Youth Criminal Justice Prevention, we are addressing the state’s need for intervention and deflection opportunities through a multi-system strategy, ultimately leading to positive outcomes and changes in youth behavior.”

More specially, the program will help keep kids in school, increase their opportunities to graduate high school, and prevent negative contact with the court system, while increasing wrap-around services that include mentoring training, work development, and employment opportunities.

The project will also educate stakeholders and policymakers on the importance of expanding trauma-informed systems of care for at-risk youth, youth development principles, and data and evidenced-based research for youth deflection programs.

The initiative will provide a model for community-based deflection efforts supported by policy and practice throughout the state of Arkansas.

The new program is a natural build from L&J Empowerment’s flagship initiative The Confess Project (TCP), whose mission is to train barbers and other community members as mentors and mental health advocates to reach boys and young men in ways that others may not be able to. TCP offers support and dialogue around emotional health, character development, and future plans for education, training, and employment during haircuts. It’s now expanding to support young women of color as well..

About L&J Empowerment

Headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, L&J Empowerment was founded by Lorenzo and Jordon Lewis – serial entrepreneurs and nationally-recognized, social-impact solutionists. The organization’s focus is criminal justice, mental health innovation, and economic opportunity. L&J Empowerment’s programs include The Confess Project, Prison to Purpose, Uplift Barber and Beauty, and the Arkansas Barbershop Network. Its newest initiative is the Arkansas Barbershop Network for Youth Criminal Justice Prevention: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Incarceration.

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