Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF)
Azim Khamisa started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) nine months after his 20-year-old son Tariq was shot and killed by a 14-year-old gang member, Tony Hicks. Working as a pizza delivery driver to earn extra money, Tariq was lured to a dark street and a bogus address. Hicks followed an 18 year old gang member’s orders and pulled the trigger when Tariq refused to hand over the pizza. After receiving forgiveness from Khamisa, Hicks confessed to the crime. “From the onset, I saw victims on both ends of the gun,” said Khamisa.
Khamisa reached out to Ples Felix, Tony Hick’s grandfather – and together, they have channeled their pain into real action, delivering their message to over 400,000 students through TKF’s programs that teach students about the realities of violence, forgiveness, gangs and the importance of making positive choices in their lives. “The basic premise when I started the foundation was that violence is a learned behavior,” said Khamisa. “No kid was born violent. Nonviolence is also a learned behavior, but it has to be taught.” The foundation’s Safe School Model includes intensive one-on-one mentoring, small group skill building workshops, in-class evidence based curriculum facilitation, violence prevention assemblies, and school-wide community service projects.
And it’s working. TKF just completed a preliminary study of the program’s impact on four San Diego schools in reducing behavioral referrals for student misconduct. The results are significant: for youth involved in TKF’s programming, school disciplinary problems dropped from 83% to 26%, suspensions dropped from 81% to 14%, truancy dropped from 36% to 10% and violent behavior dropped from 46% to 7% – an overall 63% reduction in student incidents of misconduct.
“You could take the position that Tony should be hung form the highest pole for taking the life of my only son,” said Khamisa. “How does that improve society? Forgiving Tony and inviting him to join the foundation will make a better society. That is exactly what has happened. We have saved Tony, who has aced his GED in prison and is currently getting his degree in Child Psychology. …I can’t wait for him to join us. We have saved him, but he will save many when he is on stage with his grandfather and me sharing his testimony to kids.” For more information about the Tariq Khamisa Foundation and find a TKF event go to: tkf.org.