Speaker: Lack of opportunity and violence go hand and hand - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Speaker: Lack of opportunity and violence go hand and hand

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YAKIMA, Wash- A nationally known gang-prevention speaker was in Yakima Tuesday for Goodwill's ready to work luncheon.  Edward de Jesus focuses on what he calls youth engagement.  It's about making sure young people, and especially at-risk youth feel cared for and believe they have a future.  

De Jesus spoke to hundreds of local politicians, community leaders, and business people today about how a lack of opportunity often leads to the gang violence seen in the Valley. 

While the focus of the luncheon was giving people the opportunity to work, DeJesus says the solution is bigger than just giving a gang member a job.

"A job is not the problem, because how many people do we know who are employed and still live in poverty. So, the whole ticket is to sell their investment in lifelong learning", says DeJesus.

After the luncheon DeJesus met with some community leaders to talk about how to focus these ideas specifically on gang prevention in Yakima.  That includes not just having gang prevention and intervention programs, but how to make young people want to be involved with them.