James Knox, an LA native, knows firsthand what challenges youth face every day. Raised in Compton, Knox and his peers decided that they were not contributing to the narrative that many Black youth fell into. They took a different path in life and now want to give back to their community. They started the RGE Care Program.
“Growing up in Compton, there weren’t many opportunities for us,” Knox said. “As kids we’re often told that we wouldn’t live to see 18 and, if we did, we would get lost in the streets or end up in jail.
“Thankfully, me and my friends/business partners didn’t end up going down either of those routes, but we ultimately decided that we wanted to change the stigma and be a part of what makes Compton a great city and not what’s portrayed or what it used to be known for.”
The RGE Care Program is a two-week summer camp in South Los Angeles. Although it doesn’t last the whole summer, Knox said its impact on the youth helps tremendously because it exposes them to different industries.
“RGE Cares Summer Camp will provide children and adolescents with the opportunity to get out of the house and have something that exercises their brain for the summer,” Knox said. “We’ll set up some extracurricular activities and classes over a two-week span that will include the following: fashion design; life skills and health; coding; and aviation.
“Throughout the two-week camp, children will be paired with instructors and learn basic skills in each class,” he added. “On the final day, the children must write a report on what they learned during the summer camp. The report will also ask that they address how they plan to use the skills in the near future. At the very end, they will receive a certificate to conclude the RGE Cares 2022 camp experience. At RGE Cares we aim to inspire, motivate, and assist area schools with one-on-one tutoring, and college preparation.
“When a youth joins RGE Cares, they not only join a family, but become part of a cultivation process designed to empower them to excel in their personal, academic, and future professional lives. We believe this is how you change a community for the better—by bettering the next generation,” Knox concluded.
Drawing his inspiration for the summer camp from his after-school experience with Petgrave and Tomorrow Museum, Knox learned about aviation. He then became an intern and learned how to run nonprofits under the guidance of his mentors.
“See we had quite the advantage, we grew up right across the street from the Compton Airport in this community called The Grandees,” Knox said. “Robin Petgrave, who later became one of my biggest mentors, started this nonprofit aviation and afterschool program called Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. The program was designed to reel kids in and teach them about aviation, but once you get there, you sort of find what you want to do, and Robin provides you the necessary tools to reach that success even as a kid.
“My experience with nonprofits started with interning under Debra Larry, a previous employee of Robin, where I learned grant writing, putting together fundraising events, and working with kids,” he said.
Knox knew his summer camp would help families, and kids get their minds off the pandemic. But not only did he succeed in doing that, but the program also helped him secure a partnership with sneaker companies as they saw his vision.
“It’s funny we started up the program at the height of the pandemic,” he said. “See, we understood that families were negatively impacted by the pandemic from a financial standpoint, and we wanted to be the light to provide the community with some sort of assistance. This is why we started doing giveaways with community partners like Footlocker LA which then grew to PUMA and many others.”
Knox initially emailed Footlocker’s former LA Marketing Director Dani Concepcion on Instagram via DM introducing her to RGE Cares, and what we do. With PUMA, it all started with an email to Seamus Deegan.
“Immediately after learning about what we do, Seamus and Carter both have done everything they could do to ensure PUMA supports us on an ongoing basis,” Knox said.
Knox has high hopes for RGE Cares and the impact it can have on the community.
“In the next few years, I’d love to see RGE Cares creating more jobs for the community and creating scholarship funds for High School students transitioning into college,” he said. “A lot of great ideas to come, but that’s where I’d like to start.”
RGE Cares is always looking for volunteers to get involved with the camp and local events and welcomes donations. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.