For Tony Bullock deciding to establish the ROPE Foundation, Reaching Out to Provide Enlightenment, was not a hard decision. The Washington, D.C., native grew up in Brentwood Village apartments, now Brookland Manor, and at an early age discovered trouble. At 12, Bullock was charged with stealing a car, and he was arrested for selling drugs at 18. The idea of ROPE came about when he was incarcerated and involved ina group that worked with younger inmates in the prison.
Despite the many trials he endured as a youth, Bullock changed his life 14 years later to found a nonprofit organization for youth in his community. His dream then turned into areality when he was released. “When I went in, I didn’t have a clue. I learned about life. At the time, I thought that the world revolved around me. I lived day to day thinking I was going to be locked up forever,” Bullock said. Today, Bullock’s foundation operates out of a five-bedroom apartment that he uses as a teen center. It is dedicated to providing relief for the poor and underprivileged, and providing instruction to the public through subjects that are helpful to all individuals living in the community. The work of Bullock through his foundation has not gone unnoticed. Mayor Adrian Fenty recently announced that theROPE Foundation would be the recipient of a grant from the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC). The program targets at-risk youth who live in high-crime areas. “The program essentially makes it possible for the District to exert positive influences into the lives of at-risk youngsters before they are enticed by negatives influences in the community,” CYITC President and CEO MillicentWilliams said. Fenty is in full support of community organizations dedicated to reducing the problem. “It is important that the District partners with community organizations to ensure our youth have the best possible resources for making positive life choices,” Mayor Fenty said in a statement. Two other organizations have also been honored. The LatinAmerican Youth Center and the Peaceoholicsare also receiving grants. Extremely grateful for this honor, Bullock is eager to get towork. “The funding assistance provided by the Mayor’s office and the Metropolitan Police Department allowed us to extend our hours of operation, expand programming and to interface with a greater number of youth on a daily basis,” Bullock said. Dedicated to fulfilling the meaning of the program, Bullock plans to help reduce youth crime in D.C. “We will use the money for exactly what it is intended for: to reduce youth on youth crime, to develop specific programming, designed to divert youth and to provide a safe and nurturing environment in which each youth is made to feel vital,” Bullock said. ROPE has four programs, Brookland Manor Teen and Recreation Center, Fatherhood Initiative, Moms Initiative and Young Adult Recreation Center, which are located on 14th Street Northeast. Bullock also plans to open a recreation and boxing center. Once in these youths’ shoes, Bullock urges the community to not give up on these kids. “Do not underestimate our youth,” Bullock said. “They know a good thing. Our programming is targeted specifically to the interest of youth we serve. We provide a safe haven with adult supervision, we serve nutritionally balanced meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) three times per day and we engage ourrecipients in areas that are important healthy to them.”