A program to foster trust between police and minority youth will receive $375,000 under the freshly minted state budget.
The funding is a last-minute addition featured on the House Supplemental Funding list — which is more commonly called a ‘sprinkle list’ among Capitol insiders.
The dollars will go toward the Bigs in Blue mentorship program.
The program aims to “develop a child’s potential,” particularly within minority communities.
Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville proposed the program funding.
“The Bigs in Blue program has the added benefit of establishing and strengthening trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” the project request says. “The program connects youth with a law enforcement officer or first responder building a strong relationship, helping youth develop into confident, responsible adults.”
According to a House document, the program will target high school and grade school students considered “economically disadvantaged” or at-risk.
“Youth spend time with a caring adult volunteer employed as a law enforcement officer or first responder engaging in social activities,” the document adds. “Youth are introduced to careers in law enforcement, provided access to experiential learning, career guidance and educational support.”
The document suggests the program can benefit at-risk youth in the short and long term under the program. Moreover, between 401 and 800 youth are expected to participate in the program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida leads the statewide program.
“The impact of BBBS one-to-one mentoring is life long, improving individual potential and economic self sufficiency,” the document continues.
Over two dozen counties will be served under the funding. Those counties include: Baker, Bay, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Sumter, Volusia and Walton.
The budget is now under a 72-hour ‘cool-off’ period.
The 2021 Legislation Session ends April 30.