April 23, 2024

With Children’s Trust Funding Cut, UDC YouthFirst Program Misses Repayment Of $41K Unsecured Loan To Town Of Century : NorthEscambia.com

After the Escambia County Children’s Trust on denied to renew funding for the Urban Development Center’s (UDC) YouthFirst Century program, the UDC missed their final loan payment now says it needs more time to repay a $41,925 loan to  the Town of Century .

Last year, Escambia Children’s Trust (ECT) awarded a contract to the Pensacola non-profit Urban Development Center (UDC) 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.

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.

The Town of Century fronted an unsecured $61,925 loan  to UDC to purchase items like computers and workbooks. The 500 workbooks at $52.75 per workbook were to be purchased from UDC for $26,375. UDC said they would reimburse the town after they received the ECT funding, but no specific deadline was established. At least $20,000 was recently repaid to the town, according to audio from a council meeting. However, a public records request to the town provided no concrete evidence of the payment.

The town loaned the money without any repayment schedue, but UDC CEO Jessica Griffen later proposed that the remaining $41,295 be repaid by December 31, 2023.

“The UDC was unable to meet its proposed repayment date and we are formally requesting an extension for repayment to, on or before March 31, 2004,” Griffen said in a January 10 letter to Mayor Luis Gomez, Jr., as she cited “the slow nature of our financial receivables”.

UDC’s reimbursement request from ECT included about $60,000 for personnel, $6,212 in travel, $2,692 for advertising, $37,000 for program supplies, $1,201 for field trips, $59,000 in “sub-grants to partners”, and $21,000 for professional services for 56 children, 29 of which are not in the program’s target group.

Pictured top and inset: Dr. Jessica A. Griffen, CEO of The Urban Development Center, addresses the Century Town Council and then-Mayor Ben Boutwell  in early 2023. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Notes on the UDC budget above, per the application: JetFuel is a Century based technology entrepreneurial business operated by Calvin Cottrell. Tutor4You is a tutoring service with “Mr. Sanders”. Reality Check Counseling is Susan Dawson, a licensed mental health counselor. Favored Hearts is owned by Cordella Allen, a clinical nurse, that will provide CPR certifications.

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