This article originally appeared on ABC 7 News

The challenge of trying to lower youth crime is an issue throughout the DMV, but one group based in Northern Virginia is working to help nonprofits break the cycle in their communities.

Communities can feel the urgency with just one look at the crime scenes dotting the landscape in the DC-Metro area.

The lives lost and the lives ruined are the reason why Wintley Phipps, Founder and CEO of US Dream Academy, has made it his life’s work to provide tutoring and mentoring to children of incarcerated parents, and to children falling behind in school.

It’s all in hopes of breaking the cycle of incarceration.

“The kids that you’re seeing doing the carjackings today, they weren’t born that way,” Phipps said. “Somewhere along the way, they did not get something, whether it be a moral framework or commitment to something bigger and better and higher than themselves.”

“You have a dream that means so much to you that you’re not willing to do some foolish stuff, if you don’t have a dream, you’ll do all kinds of nonsense,” Phipps added.

The US Dream Academy operates in cities across the country and locally out of Turner Elementary School in Southeast, D.C.

The program provides help – including an after-school program – to help kids find something to dream about.

The program received a lifeline in the form of a grant from the ViaPath Technologies Foundation in 2022.

“It’s hard to beat that cycle of incarceration, especially if you’re in an area that is underserved or underprivileged,” said Jessica Artz with ViaPath Technologies Foundation.

ViaPath is once again offering grants to registered nonprofits that help foster children, kids who have a parent in prison and children living in underserved communities.

“One in 12 children, which is about 5.7 million in this country, has experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives,” Artz said. “That’s a huge number and it’s our duty, our purpose, our passion to take what we’ve been blessed with and give back to those children impacted at no fault of their own.”

As identified by city leaders, including Council member Trayon White over the summer, those nonprofits can mean the difference between life and death.

“There’s a lot of organizations that are doing this work and [there is] strength in numbers,” Artz said.

Through October 27, ViaPath will be accepting applications from registered 501 (c) (3) organizations that help children in underserved communities and those with a parent in prison.

“We are willing to talk to anyone, we’re willing to bounce ideas off of other organizations on how we can partner together,” Artz added.

It’s a partnership that Phipps says has helped the US Dream Academy serve thousands of children in the past year and hopefully will change their course in life.

“When an uncle, brother, cousin, everybody’s kind of going in and out [of prison] sometimes in the back of your head, there is this feeling that that may end up being my life too, and we have to break that out of the hearts of a lot of young people,” Phipps said.

Learn more about how ViaPath Foundation is transforming corrections and rehabilitation