Save Our Youth came to be in 2004 while founder, Officer Thomas Burke, working in cell block two at the Jackson prison, was given the order that the prison had started housing youthful offenders in the adult male correctional facility. Thomas did not agree with locking up youth as young as 14, in the world’s largest prison. He decided that day that he had to try and do something to stop the youth from getting to this spot in the first place by creating the Save Our Youth mentoring program.
The first program SOY designed, ” Stopping Time “, was endorsed by the Warden authorizing Officer Burke to work with children of incarcerated parents. Though the program had some success, Officer Burke dreamed of larger scale program where the community could be involved. This made more sense since the target population was “at risk youth “.
With lots of hard work and dedication Officer Burkes dreams have turned into a reality. Along with help from many volunteers, by year 2007, the mentoring organization had grown to be the large scale grassroots organization Thomas had dreamed of. Save Our Youth was beginning its journey of partnering with existing organizations such as United Way and Big Brother Big Sisters to promote Save Our Youths activities that were designed to bring the youth and community members together. The end result was that the adult community in turn felt, empowered the to work with the at risk children as mentors. Collaborating with other nonprofit organizations and researching what youth are interested in has helped Save Our Youth make many children’s life prosper.
In 2016 Save Our Youth became its own 501C3 and has since taken off to spawn over 14 programs that promote mentoring all throughout the year. Officer Burke continues to recognize the “gaps ” in the community as a contributing reason to why our youth fall through the cracks. Looking into the future with staff and community volunteers, Save Our Youth expects to keep creating pathways, mentoring and being involved in the community for many years to come.