Our Story

”Our mission is to inspire and empower at-risk youth to embody the change they want to see in the inner city.”

Inner City Innovators, Inc. (ICI) is a 501(c)(3) Florida non-profit corporation committed to breaking the perpetual cycle of youth delinquency and gun violence in the inner city of West Palm Beach.

Inner City Innovators, Inc. was born of a simple idea: to create change in the inner city by embodying the change. This idea germinated within Ricky Aiken for many years, but it wasn’t until he realized that he could spearhead an effort to organize a founding board of like-minded supporters, and consolidate their diverse talents to help Inner City Innovators, Inc. come to fruition.

Ricky Aiken was sick and tired of losing the youth in his community to incarceration and gun-violence, so eight years ago, he decided to do something about it. Since then, Ricky has used his life’s story to spread awareness about the plights plaguing inner city youth. He has committed his time and energy to be the role model and mentor the youth in his neighborhood and those like it need to overcome the persistent plights he has himself overcome.

Our youth are not participating in drugs, delinquency, and violence on a part-time basis, so why should our efforts be part-time? – Ricky Aiken

In 2016, however, Ricky realized his efforts weren’t enough. He had to take a more drastic, hands-on approach to addressing the issues facing the youth of his community. An hour a week here and there is simply not enough to fill the void in these young lives created by a lack of attention and positive direction.

To maximize his time and efforts in the hopes of making a more significant impact, Ricky Aiken made the courageous decision to devote his life to the youth in his community full-time. The way he sees it, these at-risk youth are not participating in drugs, delinquency, and violence on a part-time basis, so how could the answer be achieved on a part-time basis?

In the latter half of 2016, Inner City Innovators, Inc. was incorporated as a Florida non-profit organization, and the company received tax-exempt status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity in December of 2016. In early 2017, Ricky left his job as a program facilitator at another local non-profit to serve as ICI’s full-time Executive Director.

Programs

Hope to the Hood Engagement Walks

To convey a credible, clear message about the consequences of clique/gang violence to youth already involved or at risk of being involved in gangs, we walk the streets to communicate to youth that they have better options for their lives.

Our team consists of streetwise young men and women trained in advocacy, community organizing, mentoring, and conflict resolution. We engage neighborhood settings wherever young people at risk of violence are found, serving as mentors and positive role models for them.

Our role is to make sure youth understand the consequences of violence and that there are positive alternatives to gang involvement and the street life. As inner city residents ourselves, we make ourselves available 24/7 to youth and their families in times of need.

HOOD CHANGER CLIQUES

Hood Changer Cliques  are strategically designed to give youth the identity, belonging, and autonomy they’d typically seek in a clique/gang. Each clique is facilitated by Executive Director, Ricky Aiken, who has the life-experience and social capital necessary to effectively relate to our youth.

Each Clique will meet up to 3x per week over 12 weeks and devote at least 20hrs of community service to their respective hoods. With a focus on leadership development and social/emotional learning, our curriculum is real, relevant, and guaranteed to give at-risk youth the tools they need to be producers instead of products of their environments. Successful graduates will be expected to maintain their own Cliques (peer to peer mentoring) and regularly conduct Good in the Hood Outreach Events with the full and continued support of Inner City Innovators!

Good in the Hood Outreach

ICI deploys trained graduates of Hood Changers to neighborhood playgrounds and housing-complexes to engage school-age youth in arts & crafts, organized sports activities, literacy assistance,  and MORE, all in an effort to bring hope to the hood and give at-risk youth the platform necessary to embody the change they want to see in their community!

BEYOND THE WALL

A violence prevention program designed to help youth in detention overcome problems they may face once they return to their communities, such as gangs, crime, and drugs. The program is designed to intervene in the lives of youth who have come in contact with the juvenile justice system to reduce recidivism and diminish the prospects that youth will become adult offenders.

 

Our Board of Directors


Ricky Aiken

Executive Director/Chairman of the Board
Ricky is the founder, leader, and visionary of Inner City Innovators, Inc. Ricky is a passionate activist and agent of change in the communities that ICI serves.

Tom Copeland HeadshotTom Copeland
Treasurer/Co-Chair of the Board
Tom is a founding board member, helping to develop and implement the corporate operations, fundraising, and long-term strategic planning to maximize ICI’s efficiency.

Ronnie Perry HeadshotRonnie Perry
Secretary
Ronnie is the founder and pastor at New Song Church, offering a guidance and advisory role to ICI with a background in start-up non-profits.

Jessica Lynn AndersonJessica Lynn Anderson
Community Engagement Leader
Jessica is an employee with the Palm Beach County School Board, and former Staff Sergeant with the Air Force. She has a passion for community engagement, and giving back to West Palm Beach.

Norman Austin HeadshotNorman Austin
Events Chair
Norman is committed to providing and instilling resources, leadership, and empowerment in the members of the inner city with a hands-on approach.

Press and Media

Ricky Aiken and Inner City Innovators have garnered local and national press since inception. Here are a few select stories.

Trump Calls Out Chicago, But What about Mar-A-Lago? by Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 2/18/2017

PBP Story - 8/20/16Goodman Commentary: Turned His Life Around. Next Up: His Neighborhood by Howard Goodman, the Palm Beach Post, 8/22/2016

Dozens Participate in West Palm Beach Peace March by Julius Whigham II, the Palm Beach Post, 6/3/2016

PBP Story - 6/30/2016Inner City Innovators Take Next Step to Build Bridges with Troubled West Palm Beach Communities by Michelle Quisada, WPTV Newschannel 5, 9/15/16