UNIVERSITY AREA — Thanks to a $100,000 grant from United Way Suncoast, the University Area Community Development Corporation has dispensed a prescription for prosperity to 40 neighborhood families living in extreme poverty.
The gift is UW Suncoast’s first ever to a non-United Way organization.
Its purpose is to help fund the corporation’s STEPS for Success program, which focuses on resolving family crises associated with being poor through planning, education, training programs and support.
“United Way focuses on helping families find paths out of poverty,” said Emery Ivery, president of the Tampa Bay Area office of United Way Suncoast, in a written statement.
“We work with community and corporate partners to create long-lasting change for families in need,” he added.
In partnership with Crossover Church, the program aims to eliminate the core of the families’ problems, not merely treat their symptoms.
“The University Area is home to one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Florida — one that is blighted by extreme poverty, high unemployment, deterioration and illiteracy,” said Executive Director and CEO of the University Area Community Development Corporation Dan Jurman.
Participants in the program, who’ve been selected by the UACDC Partners Coalition that consists of representatives from nonprofit, government and private organizations that serve the University Area, must meet three community equity requirements.
They include volunteering at least eight hours per month for a local nonprofit organization, serving as a network peer and committing to at least three years as a mentor after graduating from the program.
Eighteen months is the minimum time required in the program and graduation occurs when participants have freed themselves from a cycle of poverty as the result of embarking on a new career, completing a particular field of study at a trade school, or receiving an offer of employment.
“The main motivating factor is that you’re ready to make a change in your life,” Jurman said. “Individuals put the steps in place but it really is about getting their whole family stabilized.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]