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Charlie Crist celebrates $4.5 million youth development grant

AMIKids is a nonprofit that helps kids both in the juvenile justice system.

Congressman Charlie Crist is celebrating a significant grant for a youth development program that benefits his constituents in Pinellas County.

The U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Project awarded $4.5 million to AMIKids, a nonprofit that helps kids both in and out of the juvenile justice system.

“Everyone deserves a second chance — especially our children. This $4.5 million grant will allow our community to help bridge the gap for troubled youth, connecting them to the support and mentorship opportunities they need to rebound and ultimately thrive,” Crist said. “AMIKids is a terrific resource for children and families throughout the Tampa Bay area, providing crucial interventions to break children out of harmful patterns and environments. I am grateful to see our government investing in change-makers like AMIKids, who are dedicated to moving our youth toward a brighter future.”

The grant is geared toward organizations and projects that serve young people who have been or are currently involved in the juvenile justice system.

AMIKids serves 135,000 children in nine states. Locally, the organization operates a center in Pinellas County — the Pinellas Center for Personal Growth located in Pinellas Park. That facility provides preventive intervention services for at-risk youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. Since its opening in 1972, the program has served more than 5,000 students in its Day Treatment program. 

Local elected officials have long been targeting programs and strategies for reducing youth crime and eliminating the so-called school to prison pipeline where kids are arrested for minor offenses and rack up criminal records that stay with them for years. 

Crist has championed after school programs and other preventive resources to ensure kids are staying out of trouble and have access to rehabilitative services if they’ve already had legal problems. 

Crist faces reelection to Florida’s 13th Congressional District in mid and south Pinellas County next year. So far, four Republicans have filed to challenge him. He does not face a primary opponent. 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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