The Tampa Police Department awarded $25,000 in total funding to ten local community organizations.
“The City of Tampa is recognized as one of the safest cities our size in the entire nation because we, as a police department, serve a community that is invested in making our city safer, and better, for everyone,” said Chief Lee Bercaw. “Each of our award-recipient organizations began as an individual’s dream. What binds these groups together is that each has demonstrated the strength and passion to reach for the stars and make our community better.”
The funding will aid community partners who are engaged in projects and programs benefiting the citizens of Tampa and that support the spirit of the Tampa Police Department’s mission to reduce crime and enhance the quality of life through a cooperative partnership with all citizens. The TPD C.A.R.E.S. funding must serve residents within the municipal boundaries of the City of Tampa by addressing a youth or adult program geared towards crime prevention and community engagement. This includes but is not limited to social development, mentorship, prevention and treatment of drug or domestic abuse, and mental health.
The organizations selected to receive TPD C.A.R.E.S. funding are:
>RISE UP FOR PEACE (awarded $5,000)
When Patricia Brown’s son, Devante Brown, was murdered on March 21, 2020, RISE UP FOR PEACE was created to promote awareness of gun violence and support families by bringing together a network of community ambassadors standing against gun violence. The goal is that with “One Voice and One Sound” there may be an individual who is deterred from the choice of gun violence and the life of one of our community members.
Rise Up For Peace conducts monthly events to bring the community together to stand against those who make the deadly decision to pick up a gun and shoot. Rise Up For Peace is the voice of the child, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, and neighbor taken from us by senseless gun violence.
Hosting what they have termed “Gun Violence Interruption” events, Rise Up For Peace encourages our youth to sign a pledge to not commit any gun violence and instead to develop alternatives to solving disagreements.
Rise Up For Peace also holds Family Fun Days, bringing hope and encouragement to communities that have been affected by gun violence. They serve as speakers for youth forums and outlets, promoting conflict resolution and encouraging the See Something, Say Something philosophy to make Tampa a safer place for everyone.
>Miniserio Mujeres Restaurdas por Dios LLC (awarded $5,000)
A survivor of human trafficking, Nancy Hernandez has spent the last 14 years providing food and resources to other survivors while also working to rescue them from the streets. Beginning her community service in 2007, she brought sandwiches, water, and clothing to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. In 2014 Nancy’s work was recognized by the Tampa Underground Network, a network of micro churches and community organizations. She joined the network and worked out of its location until a year ago when she was able to secure her own Nebraska Avenue office. Today her location has expanded to a chapel and meeting location for survivors and their children to receive showers, food, and clothing; with plans for a medical suite for those in need to be able to get free medical services and medicine.
>Gentlemen’s Quest of Tampa, Inc. (awarded $2,500)
Mr. Tavis Myrick is a lifelong educator and in 2014 he founded Gentlemen’s Quest of Tampa, Inc. as a mentoring program to help teens realize their full potential as students, make positive choices regarding their academics and behavior, and equip them with the skills necessary to become productive citizens after they graduate high school.
Many students begin the program showing signs of anxiety and depression. This program creates a sense of family in a safe, supportive environment. The purpose is to change lives by helping traumatized teens develop a healthy identity and self-perception as an integral part of mental well-being. Through their Life Class curriculum, students are given the tools and strategies they need to build their intellectual, emotional, and relational capacity and break down perceived barriers to attending college. Since the program began in 2014, 100% of the seniors graduated high school, enrolled in college or trade school, or enlisted in the military. None have been arrested a second time. Gentlemen’s Quest changes the lives of young men by helping them realize success is attainable.
>GZL Education Foundation (awarded $2,500)
Since 1987, the GZL Education Foundation’s Men of Tomorrow Program has been transforming countless lives of young men in the Tampa Bay area. Stemming from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s main initiative of “Go–to-High School, Go-to-College,” this program is geared toward helping students succeed in middle school, high school, and college. Workshops are held from August to June on topics for success such as goal setting, time management, career choices, financial aid, study skills, interviewing skills, college life, financial responsibility, and managing money, as well as standardized state and SAT/ACT test preparation.
>Just Help Out Foundation (awarded $2,000)
Nichole Venegas founded the Just Help Out Foundation following the devastating loss of her brother, Joey, who tragically died by suicide at the age of 37. In the days leading up to this heartbreaking event, Joey had expressed feelings of hopelessness. Determined to bring light to those in the darkest moments of their lives, the Just Help Out Foundation was established to extend a helping hand to anyone experiencing despair in the Tampa Bay Area, believing that no one should face their struggles alone, especially when it comes to mental health.
>Interbay Little League (awarded $2,000)
The mission of the Interbay Little League is to help teach young players not only how to play the game, but also how to enjoy the game. A chartered member of Little League International, the Interbay Little League serves boys and girls ages 4 to 16 years old who live or attend school south of Ballast Point Boulevard including all of Mac Dill Air Force Base. This inclusive organization is one of two leagues in South Tampa that offers a Challenger Division which serves kids with intellectual and physical disabilities.
>Ivy Enrichment Foundation of Tampa Bay, Inc (awarded $2,000)
The mission of the Ivy Enrichment Foundation of Tampa Bay is to enrich the lives of children and other citizens in the Tampa Bay community by providing innovative programs that expand their opportunities and open doors for their future development. The vision of the Ivy Enrichment Foundation of Tampa Bay is to work collaboratively with our community and business partners to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.
The Ivy Enrichment Foundation conducts community activities including STEM Education, Reading Programs, MLK Day of Service, Scholarship Awards, Food Distribution, Annual School Supplies, and Backpack Giveaways. To further enrich the community, workshops are conducted to promote Health and Nutrition, Environmental Ownership, and Financial Literacy.
>Vast Track and Field and Cross Country (awarded $2,000)
The mission of VAST Track & Field and Cross Country is to help kids reach their potential both athletically and academically. Our objective is to be a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming Track club to help kids, aged 5 to 18, learn a new sport and potentially create future athletic and academic opportunities. We strive to make an impact in our community and focus on giving an opportunity for our youth to feel seen and supported.
>S.O.A.R. First (awarded $1,000)
The mission of SOAR First is to provide resources and opportunities for youth empowerment and development, fostering a brighter future for the next generation Through a range of diverse programs, SOAR First provides invaluable guidance, education, and support to help youth thrive and unlock their full potential. By implementing mentorship programs, skill development initiatives, conferences and workshops, and community outreach efforts, SOAR First has been able to serve over 5,000 children and families. The organization’s partnership with Hillsborough County schools has proven crucial in identifying and reaching the families that require the most assistance.
>We Dream Community Development Corporation (awarded $1,000)
The We Dream Community Development Corporation works to enhance the lives of the students enrolled in the building construction program by providing entrepreneurial mentorship, financial literacy, and other construction hands-on experiences.
The corporation hosts an annual senior outreach initiative called “Painting for the Holidays” which provides brand-new home exterior paint facelifts for families in the Tampa community. Students who participate in the Painting for the Holiday initiative will have the potential for an apprenticeship.
We Dream Community Development Corporation has plans to triple the number of senior citizen homes they paint with the partners and volunteers.