This past year saw many triumphs and challenges. Within my first three months in Office, we hosted the 2015 Mayor’s Summit on Children. This event brought together leaders from our community, across all sectors, to learn about the vital importance and need of quality early learning in the lives and development of our children; as well as the long-term economic gains investing in early learning would bring to our City.
We also launched a summer jobs program within the City of Tallahassee organization. The Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy, or TFLA as we all call it, brought in over 100 children (60% of whom resided in the “Promise Zone”) to gain work experience, job training, skills assessment, and financial literacy knowledge. For 53% of the participants, TFLA represented their first job opportunity; and 85% of all participants showed improvements in one or more skill areas.
Our City has also been experiencing significant issues relating to violent crime. Towards that end, we launched the summer Operation Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. This initiative authorized the hiring of additional police officers, who will be trained in community policing methods; strategically enhanced and supported summertime programs, and strengthened partnerships with community organizations; and launched the Neighbors on the Block Program, in which we went door to door in some of the hardest suffering neighborhoods to engage residents and reinforce the notion that we cannot win this fight without their aid and support.
Another truly wonderful moment from 2015, was the first seating of The Longest Table. We brought over 400 residents together to break bread, discuss issues and challenges our City is facing, and to simply increase a common understanding of who we are as a community.
I could go on and on about all the accomplishments from this first year, of which I am so proud; however, I would prefer to turn an eye towards the future. Moving forward we have so many exciting plans, including: The 2016 Mayor’s Summit on Children; the launch of our Tallahassee Innovation Partnership; increasing our assistance to organizations working in the “Promise Zone;” expanding TFLA into the private sector; helping to host over 100 Longest Table events in the homes of our Citizens; and many more events, programs, and partnerships.
2015 was a major success; but together, we can ensure that 2016 is an even greater step in moving Tallahassee forward.
Mayor, City of Tallahassee
2015 Highlight Video
In My Own Words - WCTV interview on 2015 and the road ahead