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The politics and power of Poverty Inc.


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MADISON, Wis. — Victor Barnett has seen it all on the mean streets of inner city Milwaukee.


For nearly 35 years, Barnett and his Running Rebels Community Organization have directed thousands of poverty-stricken kids to basketball, music and plenty of other positive choices and away from the drugs, gangs and violence surrounding their homes.


The 53-year-old Barnett knows too many black kids who didn’t make it out alive, more who left in the back of a squad car.


But he and his growing Running Rebels staff have seen and done plenty of good in the city, too, changing lives for the better.




REBEL WITH A CAUSE: Victor Barnett, founder and executive director of Running Rebels Community Organization, is giving poor Milwaukee kids another option than the “poverty trap.”

The more prominent names stand out. Like Kevon Looney, who started coming to the Running Rebels’ courts as a fourth-grader. A decade later, Looney is one of the most highly touted recruits in all of college basketball, set to attend UCLA on a full-ride scholarship.

Perhaps Barnett’s proudest success story is Anthony Kazee. The young man faced 10 years in prison on a robbery charge. Barnett and others worked with Kazee in the juvenile justice system. They invested in him. Today the once-troubled teen is an engineering graduate from Tuskegee University now employed in construction in Colorado.Scissors-32x32.png

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