Local organization aims to tackle gun violence in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Philadelphia faces a worldwide health crisis amid COVID-19, the city deals with another major issue relating to gun violence.

While the city's crime rates continue to rise amid gun violence, one group is looking to tackle this issue at the source.

ManUpPHL is a local organization made up of different city leaders on a mission to step into the lives of young men 18 through 35-years-old who are statistically most likely to be victims or perpetrators of gun violence.

Solomon Jones, executive director of ManUpPHL, believes one of the root issues of gun violence starts with male mentoring.

"I do think one of the root causes of gun violence is the lack of male mentoring," said Jones. "Because in order to become a man you need to have someone model that for you."

Jones says it doesn't necessarily have to be a father, but it should be someone that's respected and shows what he calls the "right way."

"We are trying to step into a role that allows us to help a young man along the way," said Solomon. "Not necessarily preach to him, or anything like that, but just show him a better way, give him some resources and alternatives so that he doesn't have to turn to gun violence in the streets."

Jones says some of the issues they address are: Fatherhood, criminal justice, finances, education, financial literacy and jobs.

"We're dealing with these root causes because these are the things that a lot of us look for in the streets," said Jones. "So we're trying to provide those things in a more positive environment so that they can go in another direction."

Jones says what sparked his motivation to begin ManUpPHL was a personal experience he will never forget.

"For me, it was when a friend of my son was killed in South Philadelphia in November 2019," said Jones. "I knew sitting in that funeral looking at my son and these other kids mourning that all of us needed to do more."

Jones says his team's goal is to help save lives. During the length of the program, mentors were able to receive help getting employment, temporary housing and care packages.

"We just want to let them know that we care and we're there to be counted on," said Jones. "If they know that, then the change will come."

Due to COVID-19, the group meets virtually on Facebook live via Zoom. But Jones says they plan to resume in-person gatherings at their four recruitment locations in West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Northwest and North Philadelphia.
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