Knoxville group receives $5,000 after violence town hall meeting

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The town hall meeting in Knoxville Wednesday night called “Stop the Violence: A Community Conversation” brought up the issue of a lack of funding for Knoxville’s inner city organizations.

In response to the dialogue, one Fountain City business owner stepped up by donating $5,000 to SEEED Knoxville, a career readiness program.

“When I watched the forum and the call for more funding, this was the obvious thing to do,” said Steve Drevik, President of Agilaire LLC.

More online: Stop the Violence: A Community Conversation

Agilaire is a software company that employs ten people. They do business worldwide. Drevik challenges other businesses to contribute to inner city organizations as well.

Kasey Williams, a young single mother hard at work studying for her CDL, wants to become a school bus driver. She says without SEEED, she would have never made it through high school.

“I was homeless. Went from family to family. Stayed at the YWCA. I went to jail and did time,” Williams described.

More online: SEEED Knox

Staff at SEEED have their hands full.

Kasey Williams
Kasey Williams

“The biggest problem is getting funding for this program. It’s difficult because we want to do our jobs. But 60 to 70 percent of our time is spent going out and looking for funding,” explained John Gough with SEEED.

WATE 6 On Your Side wondered if United Way was a realistic funding option for area inner city groups. Neither SEEED, nor UUNIK Academy nor 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville have applied for funding through them.

“We’ve never had a discussion with United Way. They have a strong history of service in our community,” said Rick Staples with 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville.

Some say there are a lot of hoops to jump through. United Way agrees that it’s a complicated process.

“Yes, it is a long process, but we feel we need to make sure everyone is accountable. Certainly we welcome anyone to apply. If they can make our community better in those areas of education, financial stability and health, certainly,” said Marie Alcorn, with United Way.

100 Black Men and SEEED now say they’ll revisit the idea.

“That’s something we want to come together and break bread and figure out how to have continuous funding,” Staples added.

Williams knows firsthand how much good this can do.

“This is an organization that’s not getting a lot of funding they deserve, you know,” Williams said.

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