Orange County Citizens’ Review Panel Delivers Impactful Programs for Local Communities

Public Health & Safety

From programs guarding children from human trafficking, to career development opportunities to crime prevention projects, the Citizens’ Review Panel (CRP) has awarded more than $14.3 million to area nonprofits for 2023.

Every year the CRP selects a small group of proposals from Orange County-based nonprofits, to provide critically needed services to local citizens.  In 2023 alone, 32 agencies were chosen to establish 61 unique programs. As a key recommendation of the Orange County Citizens Safety Task Force, the CRP implemented a number of funding-process modifications this year, ensuring a more equitable process and the highest quality results for Central Floridians. Examples of agencies include:

Beautifully Scarred, Inc. aims to empower girls of diverse backgrounds to prevent delinquency, anti-social behaviors and promote a positive reduction in overall risk factors for youth. This will be accomplished through self-care workshops, career development opportunities and group mentorship programming.

Paving the Way Foundation, Inc. will offer programming geared towards protecting children from human trafficking. Programs give children, parents and educators insight into such concepts as grooming, online enticement and support services, among others.

SOS by Urbander, Inc. will partner with a youth mentoring program “So You Want Your Name in Lights” to provide an arts-focused, crime-prevention project designed to encourage underserved youth populations to make sound choices and develop positive life-skills.

“These programs make a real and lasting impact in the lives of everyday Central Floridians,” said Angela Chestang, division manager for the Citizens’ Commission for Children — a division of the Community and Family Services Department, which oversees the CRP. “The CRP welcomed the recommendations of the Citizens Safety Task Force, taking significant steps forward to improve our already strong processes for 2023 and beyond.”

Convened by Mayor Jerry L. Demings following a series of violent, youth-related incidents in 2020, the Citizens Safety Task Force seeks to reduce and prevent gun violence and violent crime in Orange County communities.

As recommended by the task force, the CRP implemented a revised funding strategy to create a more equitable process. This revised strategy allowed smaller and mid-sized nonprofits to compete for funding separate from larger organizations. As a result, 14 of the 32 nonprofit agencies awarded 2023 funding — nearly half — were nonprofits that had not received previous CRP funding. Twelve of the 14 new funding recipients were small, grassroots agencies.

Moving forward, a wide variety of trainings will be provided to funded agencies throughout the year. These trainings will include a capacity-building seminar series — conducted by business faculty at Rollins College and the University of Central Florida — intended to strengthen internal business operations within funded agencies.

“All of these measures, in aggregate, represent the realization of a funding distribution process that will be much more equitable for local nonprofits and impactful for the people of Orange County,” said Chestang.

For more information, visit Orange County Government’s Citizens’ Review Panel webpage.

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