When Victor Barnett, founder of the Running Rebels Community Organization, walks through the youth agency’s new sprawling location off Capitol Drive, he can imagine the future — and can’t help but remember the past.
He thinks back to a time more than 30 years ago when the fledgling nonprofit couldn’t pay rent on a small building in Milwaukee and was evicted. One of the young men who participated in programs there learned of the news and began to cry.
“I remember him talking about not having a home, not having a space,” Barnett said. “I can’t wait to walk in here with him now and ask ‘Do you remember when we didn’t have a home?'”
Over 36 years, Running Rebels has grown into a force in Milwaukee. The agency works to keep the city’s youth safe, connecting them with mentors, athletics, music, tutoring and workforce training. Running Rebels also offers community events, takes part in citywide initiatives and is contracted with Milwaukee County for targeted monitoring of young people on supervision through Children’s Court.