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June 11, 2022 | Press Release

Groups hope investment in athletics will help curb youth violence

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio are teaming up to help curb youth violence by bolstering a popular football and cheerleading program.

CMHA and BGCNEO have reached a memorandum of understanding to take charge of the Cleveland Muny League Renegades, one of the teams in the multi-division football and cheerleading program for kids ages 5-14. The organizations’ goals are to get more kids involved in Cleveland Muny League and link that participation to gang-intervention programming.

More than 100 kids are expected to be in the Renegades program this fall.

The idea for the program came from former Renegade player and coach Richard Starr, who grew up in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood and is now the Ward 5 Councilman as well as BGCNEO’s Sports and Recreation Director. Starr said blending sports with anti-violence services is a good way to keep youth on a positive path and out of trouble.

“These types of activities are great for our youth,” said Starr, who has spent many years working with youth in the city. “It teaches them sportsmanship and encourages physical fitness. We need to have these kinds of programs, and more of them, to give our youth healthy safe activities, especially during the summer.”

CMHA will provide background checks, storage space for equipment and security. BGCNEO will provide Club memberships, transportation plus oversight and selection of volunteers and coaches. Both organizations will seek anti-gang and anti-violence funding for that portion of the program.

“It is important for the youth in our community to have opportunities for growth and

development that allow them the ability to learn the importance of commitment and

teamwork,” said Jeffery K. Patterson, CMHA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Programs such as the City’s Muny league Football provides those kinds of opportunities, and we appreciate the Boys & Girls Club and the City Cleveland’s support for this program.”

City Council, during budget hearings, increased the amount of funding for the city’s Muny League. But other organizations also help fund the Renegades, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, Friendly Inn Settlement House and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

Cleveland Muny League football has a rich and storied history. More than a dozen NFL players got their start in the league, including two Heisman Trophy winners – Desmond Howard and Troy Smith.

The league’s mission is to provide a safe, organized, competitive and fun environment for children to play tackle football in Cleveland. In addition, there are cheerleading and flag football programs.

Most players are from Cleveland but some come from other cities in the region.

Conditioning sessions start at 5 p.m. Monday, June 13 at Dwayne Browder Field, 5077 Outhwaite Ave., across the street from East Tech High School. Interested participants should come to practice, which is 5-7 p.m. weekdays at Browder Field. BGCNEO is currently seeking a program coordinator and will accept applications at its Broadway Club until Tuesday, June 14.

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand our Boys & Girls Club reach with respect to our new initiative with the Renegades,” BGCNEO Chief Programs Officer Allen Smith said. “The sport of football is capable of changing the lives of young people in very beneficial ways. Our hope is to partner and positively contribute to a program that means a lot to youth in the central neighborhood.”