A message from the mayor of Jacksonville, Alvin Brown:

Dear Friends:

On this day when we look back on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe we must also look ahead to prepare our young people with the opportunities and support they need to embrace the American Dream.

That’s why I have just announced a Youth Initiative to provide more positive opportunities for Jacksonville’s next generation. The initiative has three key actions as a starting point.

First, we will expand the great work of our Summer Jobs Program. Last year, more than 600 Jacksonville youth participated. For many, it was their first job and their first paycheck.

This year we want to increase the number of private-sector employers that participate so we can provide positive work experiences for even more young people.

I am urging local businesses to find a way to put Jacksonville’s eager, energetic young people to work this summer. Please consider having your business participate in our Summer Jobs Program. You can obtain more information at www.coj.net/summerjobs or by sending an email to MayorsSummerJobs@coj.net.

This is an important public-private partnership to invest in the next generation. If a business can provide even one job for one teen, it makes a big difference.

Second, we will provide additional support to help Teen Court prevent first-time youth offenders from becoming repeat offenders. I am asking the City Council to reallocate funds to increase the number of participants in Teen Court and the Neighborhood Accountability Boards as a constructive alternative to arrest and detention for misdemeanor offenses.

This budget transfer will help a program currently used by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office and the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court to serve an additional 250 eligible youth each year.

Third, I am establishing a Young Leaders Advisory Council to help develop the future leaders of our community. The Advisory Council will be composed of a diverse group of 25 seniors and 25 juniors recommended by principals and community organizations.

Advisory Council members will learn more about city government and effective citizenship so they can make a positive difference as young leaders. They will also advise me and other city officials on youth issues.

Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, said it best: “it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.” If Jacksonville is going to continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead, all of our young people must have the opportunities and support they need to succeed. Thank you for your help in this mission.

Alvin Brown

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