For kids seeking second chances, Pinellas a better place to be than Hillsborough, study shows

October 27, 2017. TBO.

When it comes to second chances, one side of Tampa Bay is a better place to be a kid in trouble than the other.

That’s according to a report released this week grading Florida counties on how often they use juvenile diversion programs, which send low-level offenders through counseling and community service as an alternative to arrest.

The “Stepping Up” report — conducted by a St. Petersburg think tank and supported by organizations including the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and The James Madison Institute — named Pinellas County one of the top programs in the state with a 94 percent utilization rate between January and December last year, tied for first with Miami-Dade.

At Brandon “Nehemiah” event, elected officials talk civil citations and affordable housing

March 28, 2017. Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

In front of nearly 1500 people gathered Monday at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon, the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE) brought out some of the area’s most well known politicians as part of their 2017 Nehemiah Action.

Statewide push on for juvenile citations rather than arrests in minor offenses

October 26, 2016. TBO.com

About midway through the 28th annual conference of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, Father John Tapp took the pulpit.

For the 600 or so churchgoers gathered in the sanctuary at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace, it was time for confession.

“Let’s think back to our own childhood and teenage years. If I name something you did while under 18, please stand and remain standing,” Tapp said to the laughing but obedient crowd.

Hillsborough group wants marijuana civil citations extended to juveniles

April 5, 2016. Tampa Bay Times.

Hundreds of people crowded an event room Monday night at St. Lawrence Catholic Church’s Higgins Hall to demand social change from their elected leaders.

The Nehemiah Action, a community event put together by a coalition of local religious groups known as the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality — HOPE — sought to have a new Tampa civil citation program for adults caught with small amounts of marijuana extended to juveniles.

Big push for more affordable housing in Hillsborough

April 4, 2016. WTSP.

1,300 people in Hillsborough County will push for a big change Monday. They want safe and affordable housing options on their side of the bay and they won’t stop fighting until local leaders find a solution.

Monday night at St Lawrence Catholic Church on Himes Avenue in Tampa they’ll meet face-to-face with county leaders to find a solution.