February 23, 2024

Failed Urban Development Center YouthFirst Program Reports Another Payment Toward Unsecured Loan From Century : NorthEscambia.com

The CEO of the Urban Development Center says she had made another payment toward what started as an unsecured $61,925 loan for the YouthFirst Century program that suffered a complete funding cut by the Escambia County Children’s Trust (ECT).

This week,  Jessca Griffen to the Century Town Council by phone that she had made a $20,000 payment to the town. Our public records request to the town for any proof of the payment (such as a copy of the check or deposit slip) remained ignored after two days.

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. Previously, Griffen stated anoter $20,000 was previously 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. She requested an extension to March 31, 2024.

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.

“I look forward to our continued relationship we have with the Town of Century,” Griffen said this week.

“I do want to emphasize that we appreciate you and everything you do,” Town council President Dynette Lewis told Griffen.

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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