History and Overview

1980, Running Rebels Community Organization (RRCO) was established as a private, non-profit youth agency by its Founder and Executive Director Victor Barnett. His vision is to provide positive choices for youth facing the daily pressures of delinquency, drug abuse, truancy and teen pregnancy. Victor saw the need for a positive alternative outlet for central city youth combined with support and demonstrating that someone does care about their needs.

Under Victor’s direction, neighborhood youth were persuaded to become responsible and accountable by teaching these and other values through team sports such as basketball. Mentoring, combined with basketball, became the first After-School Programs that developed into the cornerstone for what we are today. RRCO targets central city at-risk youth ages 8-19 coming mostly from single parentage, low income, and often hostile, precarious environments.

This was a major accomplishment for the agency. RRCO was granted contracts in 1998 by Milwaukee County to provide services to adjudicated youth in Serious Chronic Offenders program, Firearms program, and First-Time Juvenile Offenders program that continue to this day. Through these programs which emphasize education and prevention, we provide critical services that help adjudicated youth make life-affirming choices that may not have been possible otherwise.

After residing in several sites, we moved to our present location in 1999 and purchased the building in 2005. A Capital Campaign was initiated in 2006 to raise funds to renovate the current facility and construct a gymnasium/fitness center. This location is critical to minority youth who face a scarcity of quality after-school programs.

RRCO has grown in both programs and staff over the years. We continue targeting the city’s most at-risk while successfully reaching and impacting both “high at-risk” and “potential at-risk youth. Our achievements come through programs targeting specific needs that other agencies do not and a committed staff. This enables us to serve some the “highest at-risk youth” – those who are prone to delinquency, crime, gang members and/or substance abuse, and youth turned away by other central city youth agencies. Through respect, teamwork and discipline, Victor has helped mold thousands of young men into responsible members of society.

Our After-School/Summer Program for at-risk youth consists of:

Education Program:This program places emphasis on improving academics. Elements of include mentoring, tutoring, daily living skills, anger management, cultural awareness, social and relationship skills and community service projects.

Preventative Program:This program focuses on providing positive activities. This includes recreation and team sports, entrepreneurship, job preparation, music/performing arts, AODA training, and gang prevention.

Intensive Monitoring Program:In addition to the Severe Chronic Offenders Program, Firearms Program and 1st Offenders Program, we also provide the First Time Burglary Offender Program.

Violence Free Program is a collaboration begun in 2005 between Milwaukee Public Schools, the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and RRCO to provide staff at select high schools and middle schools to reduce suspensions and violent incidents from “chronic disruptors”. We provide assistance to these youth to help them overcome personal barriers to academic success and improve the overall safety and learning atmosphere of the school. We also administer City of Milwaukee Aftercare, State of Wisconsin Aftercare, and Restorative Justice Circles of Accountability. We provide innovative programming appealing to a broad cross section of youth including AAU boys’ basketball, football, track, cheerleading, among others.

Running Rebels will continue to be active with Milwaukee’s central city youth by helping them to reach their highest potential.