Two Utah business leaders are giving back this holiday season in an effort to be a part of the solution for rising crime rates and an increased homeless population. David Ibarra and K.O. Murdock are donating $100,000 to The Other Side Academy in support of its program and students. They say the philosophy of the Salt Lake City non-profit is a creative approach to criminal justice reform that has seen tangible results.
“The students at The Other Side Academy have already committed to an investment in themselves,” said David Ibarra. “They are worth it. Everybody’s worth it. We wanted to show that by taking action to support their personal investment.”
The personal contributions are in direct response to what Ibarra says is a growing problem, without a working solution. David ran for Salt Lake City Mayor in 2019 and most recently moderated the Pioneer Park Coalition’s Utah Public Safety Summit.
“We can’t keep talking about these things. We all need to jump in and contribute what we can – whether it be resources or expertise – to address what’s happening in a meaningful way,” David said.
The Other Side Academy is a residential, 2 ½ year program for those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The Academy is a training school where students learn pro-social, vocational and life skills allowing them to emerge with a healthy life on “the other side.” Academy students have been arrested an average of 25 times and 90% have been homeless at some point.
“For those whose circumstances have led to decades spent in the criminal justice system, the solution has to be as large as the problem,” said Josephy Grenny, Chairman of the Board of The Other Side Academy. “Support from the broader community gives more opportunity for our students to achieve success.”
In addition to learning fundamental personal management and relationship skills, students work at The Other Side Movers or The Other Side Thrift Boutique to contribute to the Academy’s bottom line. Following graduation, 70% are employed and maintain a drug- and crime-free life.
“Leadership requires action and coming together can change lives,” said K.O. Murdock. “I’m grateful to be a part of something that does both this holiday season.”