Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 7/16/2015
Tampa to break ground on Perry Harvey Park improvements

Mayor Bob Buckhorn will join community leaders to break ground on Perry Harvey Park near Encore in downtown Tampa. Park improvements to honor history of Central Avenue

The event will be held in Perry Harvey Park on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Harrison Street and Central Avenue. Please note there is significant construction in the area immediately surrounding the park; a map to the location is available on

“Tampa won a Choice Neighborhoods grant in 2012 because of our vision to create an active park that honored the community’s history for the new residents of Encore and the surrounding downtown neighborhood. While it has taken us longer than we anticipated getting to this point, we are ready to break ground and begin construction in earnest on the park that the community deserves,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Central Avenue has a special place in Tampa’s history, particularly for the African American community, and this park will be a place where generations can come together to share in that history and enjoy.”

The planned improvements for Perry Harvey Park are poised to celebrate the history of Central Avenue, its community leaders and cultural influences. The area was settled after the civil War, when freed slaves were relocated to an area northeast of downtown Tampa called ‘The Scrub’. Over time, the area grew to become a successful African American residential and commercial district. The cultural attractions became legendary, bringing nationally known artists to Tampa, including: Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Hank Ballard, and many others. In fact, the dance ‘The Twist’ was invented at an entertainment establishment along Central Avenue, inspiring the song created by Hank Ballard, which was later made famous by Chubby Checker.

The community’s history will be commemorated in the form of custom artwork, including am engaging “History Walk” located along Central Avenue, large scale statue commemorating Perry Harvey, Sr., and Leader’s Row featuring the community leaders, including Lee Davis, Robert Saunders, Christina Meacham, Moses White, Henry Joyner, Georgette Gardner, and GD Rogers.

The new park will feature an interactive fountain and great lawn space capable of hosting large concerts, festivals, and a variety of other special events. Additional improvements for the park include basketball courts, picnic shelters, and a skate park at the north end. All the new amenities will be connected by walkways and lighting, providing views of downtown Tampa’s skyline and Encore throughout.

Park renovations are being funded by the Choice Neighborhoods grant award in the amount of $6.95 million for construction. Site preparations began in spring 2015, and construction is anticipated to be complete in winter 2016, or in approximately seven months.

A map of the park improvements along with renderings of the artworks are available at in the folder named “Perry Harvey Park Art Renderings.”

For additional information, please contact:
Ali Glisson, Public Affairs Director
(813) 274-8262

Posted: 7/10/2015
Tampa YMCA Launches Veggie Van: A Mobile Market Place
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TAMPA – The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is launching a mobile market place, called the Veggie Van, to meet the needs of individuals and families living in underserved areas of Hillsborough County. Through a refrigerated truck, the Y will distribute fresh, nutritious food such as fruits and vegetables into targeted communities, which are labeled food deserts. A food desert is defined as an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.

Currently, the Y’s Veggie Van has planned distributions in the communities of Wimauma Village, Tampa Heights, Sulphur Springs and Lacoochee. Each of these locations has a demonstrated need for nutritional wellness. Other communities may be added depending on need. Community food distributions will take place every two weeks on a rotating basis. An unveiling ceremony is planned at the Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA on 110 E. Palm Avenue in Tampa on Friday, July 10th from 12:00 - 1:30 p.m., followed by an inaugural Veggie Van produce distribution for pre-qualified families from 1:30 - 4:00 p.m.

The Tampa Y is working with local farmers and growers (under the guidance of the municipal and state health departments) to provide seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to residents at specific distribution locations. Participants for the program are pre-screened by local partners to include service clubs, schools and churches. Children and families receiving free or reduced-price lunches will automatically qualify and only need to sign up for the service. The mobile market place has a nutritionist on staff to work with families on improving food preparation and cooking habits to minimize the risk of obesity, chronic disease and high blood pressure. Working with residents to make good nutrition decisions, while maintaining a commitment to cultural food norms and traditions, is a vital objective of the Veggie Van.

The Tampa YMCA is able to launch the Veggie Van thanks to generous funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, The Joy McCann Foundation and Bank of America. Additionally, the Florida Department of Agriculture has played a key advisory role in developing the mobile market place concept and moving it forward. The funding covers operational support, start-up costs and staffing of the Veggie Van, which is housed at the Central City Y.

What is a Mobile Market Place?
A mobile market place is a method of food distribution via a vehicle that provides for direct distribution to individuals and families in need. Mobile market places offer flexibility of delivery and allow providers to target underserved areas. This food delivery method helps to remove barriers to individual access, and expand food distribution capacity.

What is a Food Desert?
Food deserts are located at least one mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter or large grocery store in urban areas and more than ten miles in rural areas. Many residents who live in food deserts do not have a vehicle and rely on walking or public transportation. It becomes easier and less time-consuming to go to convenience stores and gas stations, which provide few, if any, healthy or nutritious food choices. At most of these stores, prices are inflated, food is processed and choices are limited. In metropolitan Tampa, there are 40 locations deemed food deserts. As the Y studied the 40 locations, it became clear that limited access to healthy foods plays a significant role in poor dietary decisions.

Why is a Mobile Market Place Important for Tampa Bay?
Only 20 percent of residents in Hillsborough County meet the recommended five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables. In underserved communities, the statistic drops to below 8.5 percent. People trying to feed their families with lower incomes face a double impact as food costs at stores in food deserts are usually significantly higher than food costs at stores in larger communities. Nutritious, perishable food, such as fruits and vegetables are especially high in cost. The Veggie Van will increase access to those living below poverty and the working poor. By increasing access in food deserts, more individuals will receive food benefits, and less will go hungry. In addition, individuals in need will receive timely access to nutritious food.


LalitaLlerena,Tampa Bay Metropolitan YMCA,
phone:813.224.9622 ext. 1240.

Posted: 7/7/2015
Many Tampa parks open until midnight this summer

Strong community participation during initial weeks of program rollout

In June, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced two significant Parks initiatives to help keep kids safe throughout the summer by extending hours of parks facilities and providing free “Rec Cards.” Parks and Recreation staff have been ramping up, and beginning today, July 6, 2015, nine Parks and Recreation facilities will be open until midnight seven days a week.

To date, only four centers have been open late on Friday and Saturdays only, and those are as follows: Copeland Park, Springhill, Jackson Heights, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 1370 kids have participated in the late night hours since the announcement in mid-June. Additionally, no incidents have been reported.

“With the expanded summer programming, new extended hours, and free Rec Cards, more kids than ever before will be able to have a safe place to play this summer where they can avoid the lure of the streets. We are incredibly encouraged by the number of children already participating, but we have capacity to accommodate more kids,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Today is an important day for many families in our community, and what I hope will be a turning point to allow more kids to have a safe and productive summer.”

Extended Hours
The sites that will stay open late are as follows:

  • Copeland Park Community Center, 11001 North 15th Street
  • Cyrus Greene Community Center and Pool, 2101 East Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Boulevard
  • Desoto Park Community Center and Spicola Pool, 2617 Corrine Street
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 2200 North Oregon Avenue
  • Grant Park Activity Center, 3724 North 54th Street
  • Gwendolyn Miller Community Center, 6410 North 32nd Street
  • Jackson Heights Community Center, 3310 East Lake Avenue
  • Springhill Community Center, 1000 East Eskimo Avenue
  • Williams Park Activity Center and Pool,4362 East Osborne Avenue

Activities will be in a semi structured environment and vary by location. Those activities will range from sporting activities like basketball to indoor movie screenings. Pools will be open in a free swim environment.

Extra duty Tampa Police officers and contract security will work together to ensure everyone’s safety.

The City of Tampa will also provide free snacks to all participating youth. Sponsors looking to invest in a community partnership should contact Tampa Parks and Recreation Director Greg Bayor at (813) 274-7726 or by email at

Free “Rec Cards”
Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 are still able to register for a “Rec Card” for free during the summer by visiting any of the parks facilities listed above after 6 p.m. or by calling (813) 274-8615.

The “Rec Cards” will be good for one year and allow for access into facilities and programming, including free After School programs during the school year.

For additional information, please contact:
Ali Glisson, Public Affairs Director
(813) 274-8262

Posted: 7/7/2015
July 2015 Children’s Board Newsletter online
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In this issue:

  • A message from Kelley Parris, Executive Director
  • Congresswoman Castor Visits the Children's Board Family Resource Center in Central Tampa
  • Tampa Bay Business Journal awards 2015 Nonprofits of the Year
  • The Children's Board and HCFR Foundation recognized at neighborhood conference

Read the newsletter »


PaulaScott,Director of Public Relations,Children's Board of Hillsborough County,

Posted: 6/29/2015
USF autism school getting global attention
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By Gayle Guyardo

A program based in Tampa Bay to fast track children on the Autism spectrum into mainstream schools is now getting global attention.

It's all thanks to a team effort by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and a national program called HIPPY (Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters).

"Early numbers show we are really having an impact," said Dr. Karen Berkman executive director of CARD USF.

CARD stands for "The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities," and one of its seven regional centers is located at USF. The program provides free services, information, and resources related to autism spectrum.

The collaboration between CARD and HIPPY is bringing some of the most cutting edge learning materials straight to a parents door.

Posted: 6/16/2015
Private school for low-income teens to open in Tampa in 2016

Lower income, inner city youth in the Tampa Bay region will have another option for private education as Cristo Rey High School gets ready to open in 2016. The private school, whose model exists in several other cities around the country, will open its doors to students grades 9 through 12, in an effort to give them the best education possible.

“The Cristo Rey model offers a rigorous academic program,” says Jim Madden, feasibility study coordinator for Cristo Rey. “We also see a high graduation rate among our students, but more importantly seniors who graduate from the program have over a 97-percent college acceptance rate.”

In order to qualify for the program, Madden explains that students and their families must be at or below the federal poverty definition, and the student must be at least two years behind in school.

In addition to the scrupulous academic program, Cristo Rey also offers students an opportunity to get a taste of the job world.

Continued on

Posted: 6/12/2015
Information sessions offered for nonprofit grant program
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Allegany Franciscan Ministries is excited to announce the schedule and application process for our 2016 Major and Tau Grants in Tampa Bay (Hillsborough and Pinellas counties) and Palm Beach (Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties) regions. Tau grants will also be available in the Miami Dade region!

Tau grants will be awarded through two grant cycles annually and range up to $10,000. Generally, Tau grants are awarded to local nonprofit organizations to assist with organizational or program needs that are limited in time and scope. Tau grants may also be used to support basic and emergency needs such as food, shelter and medication. Tau grants make up approximately 10% of our overall grant budget.

Availability of funds is limited, so participation in the information sessions is important to learn more about funding priorities. Space is limited. There is no cost associated with this session but you must RSVP to attend.

Upcoming Grant Information Sessions in the Tampa Bay Region

June 22nd, 10 am - 12 pm
Collaborative Labs, 13805 58th St. North, Clearwater, FL

June 23rd, 1 pm - 3 pm
The Children's Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 East Palm Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605

If you have any questions about the Grants application process, please call Jessica Gonzalez, Program Officer at (727) 507-9668. You may contact Jessica Gonzalez via email.

If you have questions about registering for the event, please contact Kathie Hardy at (727) 507-9668 or via email.

More information about the Tau Grant program

Posted: 6/8/2015
A message from Pam Iorio, Interim CEO of the Children's Board

It is a privilege to serve the public as the Interim CEO of the Children’s Board. Since August we have made many changes, reducing our overhead so that more monies can be directed to services for children, and ensuring that all of our provider contracts get executed.

Posted: 6/8/2015
Hillsborough County Social Services Provides Summer Programs to Eligible Low-Income Households

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved an increase of $664,206 to $2,058,715 for the Department of Social Services to administer programs that provide direct assistance to low-income households in Hillsborough County. This increase in funding will help improve and implement the following programs:

  • Provide a GED program for 76 students to receive education assistance
  • Provide tuition assistance for up to 60 college students
  • Provide 52 at-risk school age children tuition to attend the FAMU summer College Explorers program
  • Offer 45 individuals college scholarships to achieve higher education
  • Create an intervention program for 50 students called the HCC College Explorers program
  • Provide 38 students with an educationally-enriched after school program

For more information on Hillsborough County’s Department of Social Services or to locate a Community Resource Center, visit

Community Resource Center locations »

Posted: 6/8/2015
Additional Talk Trash Collection Public Meeting Scheduled On December 20

Hillsborough County has scheduled an additional public meeting to give residents who receive their garbage collection from the County another chance to learn more about new service options and costs that could go into effect next year.

The final event in a series of six Talk Trash Collection meetings is scheduled Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at All People’s Life Center, 6105 E. Sligh Ave. in Tampa.

Residents who can’t attend can watch live on the Internet through the Talk Trash Collection webpage, Viewers can also comment through live chat. Each public meeting’s video is being posted on the webpage for viewing after the fact.

The way garbage, recyclables and yard waste are collected in unincorporated Hillsborough County could be changing in October 2013. As the current solid waste contracts are 17 years old, Hillsborough County conducted a competitive bid process, and is seeking public input from customers on the four collection service options being considered.

The Dec. 20 meeting will close out the public comment period on the new collection options. Other ways to participate before then include:

  1. Send an email to
  2. Text or call to leave a message at 813-704-0181.
  3. Participate in the phone survey, if you are called.
Complete information and details, including a question-and-answer page developed using public comments that have been received to date, are available on the Talk Trash Collection webpage.

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