HOPE's Charter and Mission
HOPE is a multi-issue, grassroots community organization consisting of 16 multicultural and interfaith member congregations throughout Hillsborough County. HOPE is a private, non-profit, 501(c) 3, tax-exempt, non-partisan community organization founded and incorporated in the State of Florida in 1988.
HOPE's mission is to promote justice, fairness, and the dignity of people, by engaging and training people to responsibly and successfully act together to hold officials accountable to improve the systems affecting the quality of life in our communities. We do that by listening to our members and neighbors to identify common community problems, researching solutions, and then publicly engaging decision-makers for commitments to implement those solutions.
HOPE is funded in three ways: 1) Membership Dues from member organizations; 2) Investments from individuals, small businesses, and local corporations; and 3) Grants. We do not accept United Way or Government funds.
HOPE's ATOSS Initiative praised:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development says: "Due to the efforts of HOPE’s committed members, the school district agreed to establish the district-wide Alternative to Out-of-School Suspension program (ATOSS) in 1999. Under this program, suspended students attend a supervised site where they work on their schoolwork and can maintain their grades. Each site has a teacher and usually a counselor to help them address the problem that may have led to their suspension and acquire skills to handle conflict differently.
[...] "They have also embarked on other community projects that focus on homelessness, dental care, and the institutionalization of after-school programs for low-income children. If the organization’s impressive track record with ATOSS is any indicator, these initiatives will soon meet with success as well.
HOPE's Record of Success
- Dental: At least 30 more dental chairs were established at health clinics, initially increasing access to dental services for over 4,500 more low-income people in 2010
- Substance Abuse Treatment: A Drug Court Expansion Bill signed into Florida law in 2011, giving 4,000 more non-violent offenders the opportunity to get needed substance abuse treatment, instead of going to jail
- Birth Certificates and IDs: Got Hillsborough County to establish program to assist homeless in getting birth certificates and IDs in order to obtain shelter and employment.
- Suspensions: Established a district wide Alternative To Out-of-School Suspension (ATOSS) program that supervises and protects GPAs of at least 11,000 children each year. Secured a commitment from the school district to uphold Florida Statutes and not suspend children for tardiness.
- Reading: Positively impacted the reading success of hundreds of low-income children in Kindergarten to 3rd grade, and now Special Education, through implementation of a phonics-based reading program called Direct Instruction (DI). Secured $921,000 of state funding for Hillsborough County School District to implement DI in 10 schools and $7.25 million during the 2000 Legislative Session for use of DI in 7 Florida School Districts.
- Minority Teachers: Secured employment of a Minority Teacher Recruiter by the School District.
- Rezoning: Reclaimed a historic residential African American neighborhood, Dobyville, by reversing Industrial Zoning to Residential and Mixed Use Zoning, leading to the development of new and old housing.
- Demolition: Successfully encouraged the Mayor of Tampa to demolish and clean up the abandoned Belmont Heights Lumber Company, a dangerous health, safety, and fire hazard in the community.
- Sidewalks: Convinced the City of Tampa to construct a 1.2-mile sidewalk on 22nd Street in East Tampa at a cost of $65,000 to City of Tampa, which led to construction of many other sidewalks.
- Code Enforcement: Persuaded Tampa City Council to rehabilitate or demolish 200 condemned buildings and cut over 100 gravely overgrown empty lots, resulting in a 50% increase in Tampa Code Enforcement Budget.
- Infrastructure: Obtained traffic signs, street repair, drainage, and upgraded street lighting in Belmont Heights, Ybor City, Tampa Heights and Jackson Heights from Tampa's Department of Public Works.
- Hotspots: Initiated an Anti-Drug HotSpots Campaign with law enforcement that resulted in the clean up of hundreds of locations of illegal drug activity.
- Prostitution: Convinced the Code Enforcement Division, Tampa Police Department, and City Council to clean up the prostitution and illegal drug activity on and around a Hispanic congregation on Nebraska Avenue.
- Bus Service: Successfully encouraged HART to extend late night bus service until 1:00 A.M. on 9 priority bus routes during the week and two extra hours on weekends, and construct bus shelters at identified locations.
- Expedited Rent Assistance: Got Hillsborough County and the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court to help reduce homelessness by expediting rent assistance checks to landlords so they receive checks within 11 days.
- Training: Hundreds of individual members each year attend workshops to develop important skills related to leadership, issue development, and community organization.
HOPE's Long Range Goals
- Strengthen members’ ability to act on their spiritual values to love, respect and treat their neighbor fairly.
- Engage members in relationship building to identify and successfully tackle common community problems.
- Enhance the public skills of members to publicly hold accountable the political and economic systems responsible for ensuring justice and fairness.
- Correct inequities in education, housing, health care, employment, transportation, public services, police protection, and neighborhood infrastructure.