June 22, 2024

Century Council Extends Unsecured $41K Loan With Urban Development Century YouthFirst Program Cut By ECT : NorthEscambia.com

Tuesday night, the CEO of the Urban Development Center asked the Century Town Council for more time to repay an unsecured $41,925 loan to  the Town of Century, and said she’s looking for ways to keep the YouthFirst Century program alive despite a complete funding cut by the Escambia County Children’s Trust (ECT).

Last year, Escambia Children’s Trust (ECT) awarded a contract to the Pensacola non-profit Urban Development Center for “YouthFirst Century” to serve 750 youth ages 11-18 over a three-year period at a total cost of $1.2 million. In reality, they only reached 30 children in their targeted ages of 11-18.  They requested to lower their target age group to just 5-years old, but that was also denied by ECT.

The Town of Century  fronted an unsecured $61,925 loan  to UDC to purchase items like computers and workbooks. At least $20,000 was recently repaid to the town, according to audio from a council meeting. However, public records requests by both NorthEscambia.com and Rick’s Blog to the town produced no documentation of the payment.

Griffen had proposed that the remaining $41,295 be repaid by December 31, 2023, but that deadline was missed. By phone Tuesday night, she requested an extension to March 31, 2024. Griffen disconnected from the phone call before providing any additional information to the council about her group’s financial condition or reimbursements already received from ECT.

UDC has been reimbursed $164,903.50 by ECT through October, according to records from the taxpayer funded Escambia Children’s Trust, but those funds were not used to fully repay the Town of Century.

UDC has requested a $189,256.70 reimbursement for their first year of operation, despite reaching just 56 children, with less than 30 of those in the target age range. That equals $6,308 per targeted child in the 11-18 age group.

Griffen also hinted that she is looking for alternative funding outside the ECT to keep the program alive.

“The Escambia Children’s Trust has voted not to fund the YouthFirst Century program due to low participation, but I have been talking to CareerSource Escarosa (CEO) Marcus McBride, who is diligently working to see how they can be an asset to the Town of Century and hopefully put something in place.”

The council voted 5-0 extended the repayment date on the unsecured loan until March 31 as requested.

Pictured: The Urban Development League’s Dr. Jessica Griffen introduces YouthFirst Century to a group at the Pilgrim Lodge Baptist Church in Century in February 2023. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge.

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