Cause based clothing and accessory companies are nothing new. But how many prominent brands actively target the improvement of our American cities and people? While the stock market is at an all time high, and the “rich” are “richer” than ever, many people within our overall prosperous nation have been left behind. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimates, the official poverty rate is 13.5 percent (or around 45 million Americans). That number does not even include the 564,708 people in the U.S. who are homeless.
One startup, ENUF Clothing, hopes to do something about it. There are many factors that contribute to higher rates of poverty, drugs, violence, and incarceration in inner cities. But ENUF feels the best way to combat the vicious cycle plaguing our American ghettos is to educate and enable struggling inner city people, specifically the youth.
“If we can intercept and mentor young people before they fall into drugs and violence, we can give them a much better chance at a successful life”, said ENUF Clothing founder Michael Belleggie. “Most people get into drugs, gangs, and violence because they have nothing better to do and no sense of purpose”, said Michael. “But if we help them pursue a career or a path to higher education, they will have a reason to avoid the wrong path”. ENUF Clothing works with two non-profit foundations who focus on mentoring, enabling, and educating inner city youth and their families using after-school programs. Someday, ENUF hopes to build their own after school centers equipped with state of the art facilities to train at-risk youth in science, entrepreneurship, music, basic life skills or acquiring a job.
ENUF Clothing’s flagship product is a t-shirt that highlights the unfortunate results of crime and poverty in America. It has names of people who have been killed by police officers and also the names of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The shirt also features an artistic design, made to appear as if the wearer has on a bulletproof vest. This is a “silent” protest against inner city violence, as many citizens and police are afraid of being shot on a daily basis.
It is ENUF’s contention that we must fix our American cities from the inside out. We can’t expect the government or some outside agent to come fix our problems. Citizens and police officers have to achieve reconciliation and work together to improve the conditions in crime ridden areas. ENUF Clothing plans to grow, with your help, and hopefully play a significant role in helping the youth avoid crime and poverty.
- Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated in America increased from roughly 500,000 to< over 2.2 million
- Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and has 21% of the world’s prisoners.
- In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
- In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
- Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.