‘One thing we can’t do is nothing:’ Orange County takes on youth crime with community organizations

County leaders provide funding to neighborhood groups to help

ORLANDO, Fla. – On Monday, Orange County commissioners approved $900,000 to be split between four area organizations to provide a community-based approach to try and prevent youth crime.

The funding will be dispersed over three years.

It’s in partnership with the Florida Economic Consortium led by Rod Love. Here’s a breakdown of the funding each organization will receive annually:

  • Florida Economic Consortium - $116,292 (Includes program manager & other services)
  • King Solomon Foundation - $79,380
  • Morgan Ministries - $45,360
  • PowerTeens, Inc. - $58,968

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Love said the organizations were chosen based on the hard work they’ve done in the community.

“We want to see what the end result is so that kids are not picking up guns and we don’t see them become victims of gun violence,” said Love. “There are consequences for bad decision making and I think if we can reach young people that early and help them understand, I think we’ll make more headway.”

This comes just 2 weeks after deputies say 19-year-old Keith Moses shot and killed three people in Pine Hills, Including a 9-year-old and a Spectrum News 13 reporter.

Love said his not-for-profit will track youth crime data, and work with juvenile justice programs and organizations to connect kids to more resources. He said the money is being distributed based on the number of kids each nonprofit serves.

“The dollars that are invested on this, we’re going to get taxpayers a return on their investment,” said Love.

Dr. Tracy Salem is deputy director of the county’s community and family services division. She said this effort has been in the works for almost a year and also comes after Mayor Jerry Demings created a citizens safety task force in 2020 to fight crime.

“All families have a different approach and some of our services we need to bring directly to the community,” said Salem.

The county said the new funding and initiative are a result of some of the findings from the task force that the residents said they wanted to see.

“The one thing we can’t do is nothing, so as a mentor and someone who has lived here my entire life, I do support anything we can do in that direction,” said Orange County Commissioner Mike Scott. “We want to make sure we are spending things in good and proper order.”

Elizabeth Morgan works closely with kids who live along Mercy drive in Orlando. She said she’s grateful her nonprofit — Morgan Ministries Inc. — will be receiving about $45,000 per year to maintain her nonprofit over the next 3 years and help keep kids on track.

“It’s very vital because where else are they going to go? And they’re right here in this community,” said Morgan. “It enables us to hire people. It enables us to expose these things and places that are not able to.”

Nick Solomon runs the King Solomon Foundation. He grew up in Pine Hills and knows the need.

“You want someone who can relate to the kids a little bit, someone who knows what they’re going through, someone who’s not afraid to go into the hood or not afraid to be around someone who has a gun charge,” said Solomon. “We have to actually get down to the core of what’s going on with them. All of them have different battles they’re fighting.”

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.