OKLAHOMA CITY - CEO of City Center Jed Chappell has a calming spirit about him.
"It's alright buddy... That's a cricket. Have you ever heard a cricket before? Let's listen for it,” Chappell worked to engage a nervous kid at the center.
It's hard to imagine he lived his teen years filled with crime.
"When I was a young person at 11, I lost my father. It sent me off the tracks at about 14. I was living a life as a drug dealer and I was carrying a gun here in northwest OKC and I was poisoning the city,” Chappell said.
Jed was sentenced to 47 years in prison after a shootout with police in 1995, but he got out early for good behavior.
Now he's helping today's youth in Warr Acres to have a brighter future with his nonprofit, City Center.
"We provide resources in neighborhoods that are very under-resourced at times,” Chappell said.
They provide food, clothing, and a homelike atmosphere for at-risk youth.
Marcus Jackson has the same mission in a different area of town.
"The biggest vision for the Bridge Impact Center was literally to bridge opportunity gaps, poverty gaps, education gaps and discover gaps for young people in northeast Oklahoma City,” Founder of the Bridge Impact Center Marcus Jackson said.
Through coaching in reading and math, job placement and overall economic development, the Bridge Impact Center hopes to change the trajectory for impoverished youth.
Now the two men are joining forces to open City Center at the Bridge in northeast OKC.
"It speeds up the process of what we've been doing- getting it put together, but not only that, we bring the family aspect of City Center,” Jackson said.
The building that will house City Center at the Bridge is the former Bridge Impact Center location. It’s currently undergoing extensive renovations with the hope to officially open next spring.
"Music rooms, art rooms, tech room, reading room, different things like that,” Jackson said.
With the goal to reach more children in neighborhoods with big needs.
"To have a strong future in Oklahoma City that's flourishing I think we have to invest in the young people and make sure they have the tools they need to be successful,” Jackson said.
"If it takes a village to raise a kid then it takes a city to raise a village of kids,” Chappell said.
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