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OTR Future Leaders Program

CINCINNATI (Angela Ingram) -- Generations have grown up in Cincinnati's oldest neighborhood dealing with crime and all the problems that come with it.
  
But, a new program is looking to change all that.  Its target: Young people.  Keyvaughn McQueen is learning about leadership and how to work well with others.  He's part of the Future Leaders Program and found out about it from his father.

"He said it starts in the summer.  It'll be a good opportunity for you to make money and learn, experience responsibility," McQueen said.
   
In a room at the Over-The-Rhine Senior Center young minds are expanding.  Future Leaders is the brainchild of Ryan Messer, who moved to OTR about three years ago.

Messer said, "And the one thing I noticed is that in the summer time specifically there was a lot of free time for the kids in our neighborhood and I always saw that there were some young kids maybe getting into a little bit of trouble." 
   
Messer saw a need so he and others started a grass roots effort to meet that need.  They consulted with the Avondale Youth Council about its successes and forming a model that works for kids in OTR.

"They will have summer employment that will allow them to earn money for themselves, so 50-percent goes to them and then 50-percent will go to college savings," said Messer.
   
In addition to leadership skills and earning money, there's a heavy emphasis on community service.  Keyvaughn says it's a much better option than resorting to crime and violence like some young people in OTR who've lost their way.

"Kids need to just come here and get their life together.  Don't grow up selling drugs and killing people, none of that," said Keyvaughn.
   
In a neighborhood that's experiencing a boom in housing and restaurants, Messer says he was determined to bring something positive to families who've lived here for years.  And while OTR is changing around them, the kids are making positive life changes of their own.
   
3CDC is helping the young people with their summer jobs.  The group behind Future Leaders has already raised enough money for two scholarships to Cincinnati State.

Watch video HERE

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