Children’s Services Council of Leon County identifies $1.6 million for summer programs

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Roughly $1.6 million from the Children’s Services Council of Leon County is slated to be distributed this summer to more than 50 programs.

This is the CSC’s first wave of funding following a key decision by the county’s electorate nearly two years. In 2020, voters passed a referendum to generate funds — up to $8 million per year — to address issues affecting local children.

Pending contract approval, funding is slated to be distributed in the next week or so for this year’s 53 applications.

The organizations that will receive funding include one that promotes engineering education for students, another that provides nutrition to low-income and unemployed people and one that works on affordable housing assistance.

At Second Harvest of the Big Bend, the agency plans to use its allocation toward providing meals and programs to ease food insecurity in Leon County, said Second Harvest CEO Monique Ellsworth.

She said the agency, which distributed 13.8 million pounds of food last year, wanted to get on the CSC’s radar since it was empowered to make funding decisions that could make a difference for local residents.

The summer months, she said, can be a particular challenge for food-insecure households since students are not receiving free or reduced meals provided during the school year.

“The need to infuse our community with additional food for children is going to alleviate a lot of the stress that families are going to face in the summer,” Ellsworth said.

Collectively, CSC officials said, the applications represent all but one of the council’s priority funding areas: school readiness, school age support, physical health, mental health, like stability, housing stability, youth development, and enhanced support for caregivers.

The one priority area that was not funded this year was physical health due to the council only receiving one application, which it chose not to fund.

“We are going to be able to really fund what I believe to be a very good mix of programs for this summer,” CSC Executive Director Cecka Rose Green said. “I think most importantly, we are funding eight programs and school aid support and eight programs in youth development. And those were two of the areas that we heard repeatedly needed additional funding to help more children, youth and families.”

Green described the Council’s deliberation of the process as “judicious” and said members spent hours in discussion before making allocation recommendations.

She said the 10-member council directed the CSC staff to present different possibilities for funding. The CSC, Green said, looked at the top 25% of programs that scored highest in three of the five primary categories for scoring.

“The thing about that, you could score high in any three of those categories, not specific categories,” Green said. “Any three of those five, and if you landed in the top 25%, then that is the methodology that the council ultimately landed on to determine which programs will receive funding.”

10 largest CSC summer allocations

1. $180,038 — Young Engineers Tallahassee

2. $150,000 — Mount Olive Affordable Housing and Community Development

3. $139,004 — Leon County Schools’ 21st Century Community Learning

4. $122,709 — Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc

5.  $101,737— Divine Healthcare Consulting, LLC dba SG Mental Health

6. $92,594 — TeenPreneur Foundation, Inc.

7. $92,010 — Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce

8. $86,600  — Killearn Sunshine Academy

9. $67,523 — Oasis Center for Women & Girls, Inc.

10. $63,400— Alternative Resources & Technical Services, Inc. ARTS

Contact TaMaryn Waters at or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.