Overtown youth and children focus of coalition presentation

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Bro. Lye Muhammad with children from the F.A.C.E.  Program
Bro. Lye Muhammad with children from the F.A.C.E. Program

Overtown youth and children focus of coalition presentation

Bro. Lye Muhammad with children from the F.A.C.E. Program.

By Derek Joy

     The theme at the Alonzo Mourning Overtown Youth Development Center was eye-catching: Overtown children and youth needs and assets assessment community presentation.

“We’re here to present some preliminary findings on the status of youth in Overtrown,” said Saliha Nelson.

This is how the Overtown Children and Youth Coalition came together in a forum after one year of work on an “Overtown Children’s Initiative.”

The focus of the Coalition is to create a shared vision for community change and action to promote success for Overtown children and youth.

It was a check point of an effort that began at the urging of term limited city of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones over a year ago, according to Nelson of Urgent, Inc., a 20 year old community based youth development organization.

“We were organized late last summer by Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones,” said Nelson.  “We’re galvanized to have an increasing impact on the out-comes of youth in and a-round Overtown. We’re organized on a collective impact model.”

That collective impact model incorporates participation of some 20 organizations including Urgent, Inc., Barry University, Jackson Memorial Health Trust, University of Miami and the Black Archives, among others.

The collective impact model is designed around five major activities buoyed by ethnic diversity.

There is the common agenda aspect Shared measurement systems. Mutually reinforcing activities. Continuous communication. And the back office support.

“We’re looking for some reciprocity.  What that means is we want to give and we also want to receive feedback from you.  This about you – the youth,” said Nelson.

There was much open for feedback after Barry University Social Work Professor Fabio A. Naranjo and seven of his students presented a brief over-view, history and quantitative facts about Overtown.

Facts that came into play embrace the five point foun-dation of the collective impact model.

The population of 13,119, is approximately 61-percent Black, 28-percent of Hispanic heritage, 28-percent foreign born, 38-percent speak a language other than English, al-most one third are under 18-years-old and 87-percent of the residents live below the poverty line, according the 2000 Census.

Of the 12,381 households in Overtown, 52.2-percent are the traditional two parent – married couple – family, 47.8-percent are non-traditional and 33.7-percent are single parent families.

The area boasts four academic institutions of higher learning, 41 businesses, 19 churches, 12 government agencies, 15 non-profit organizations and two hospitals.

One of the successes thus far is Urgent, Inc.’s F.A.C.E. (Film, Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship) Program.  The Summer Institute is off and running in its inaugural session.

“We have four training institutes where students get paid for work experience over the summer.  The first summer is funded by the Overtown CRA (Community Re-Development Agency),” said Nelson, who add-ed, “The Coalition is recognized as the steering committee for the Overtown and Overtown Park West CRA’s.”


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About Carma Henry 13530 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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