Failed Urban Development Center YouthFirst Program Reports Another Payment Toward Unsecured Loan From Century

February 10, 2024

The CEO of the Urban Development Center says she had made another payment toward what started as an unsecured $61,925 loan for the YouthFirst Century program that suffered a complete funding cut by the Escambia County Children’s Trust (ECT).

This week,  Jessca Griffen told the Century Town Council by phone that she had made a $20,000 payment to the town. Our public records request to the town for any proof of the payment (such as a copy of the check or deposit slip) remained ignored after two days.

Last year, Escambia Children’s Trust (ECT) awarded a contract to the Pensacola non-profit Urban Development Center for “YouthFirst Century” to serve 750 youth ages 11-18 over a three-year period at a total cost of $1.2 million. In reality, they only reached 30 children in their targeted ages of 11-18.  They requested to lower their target age group to just 5-years old, but that was also denied by ECT.

The Town of Century  fronted an unsecured $61,925 loan  to UDC to purchase items like computers and workbooks. Previously, Griffen stated another $20,000 was previously repaid to the town, according to audio from a council meeting. However, public records requests by both and Rick’s Blog to the town produced no documentation of the payment.

Griffen had proposed that the remaining $41,295 be repaid by December 31, 2023, but that deadline was missed. She requested an extension to March 31, 2024.

UDC has been reimbursed $164,903.50 by ECT through October, according to records from the taxpayer funded Escambia Children’s Trust, but those funds were not used to fully repay the Town of Century.

UDC has requested a $189,256.70 reimbursement for their first year of operation, despite reaching just 56 children, with less than 30 of those in the target age range. That equals $6,308 per targeted child in the 11-18 age group.

“I look forward to our continued relationship we have with the Town of Century,” Griffen said this week.

“I do want to emphasize that we appreciate you and everything you do,” Town council President Dynette Lewis told Griffen.

Pictured: The Urban Development League’s Dr. Jessica Griffen introduces YouthFirst Century to a group at the Pilgrim Lodge Baptist Church in Century in February 2023. file photos, click to enlarge.


18 Responses to “Failed Urban Development Center YouthFirst Program Reports Another Payment Toward Unsecured Loan From Century”

  1. Lou on February 12th, 2024 9:23 am

    I think it’s time to put this tax item back on the ballot! There’s more spent on salaries, supplies etc than on children.

  2. SG on February 11th, 2024 2:24 pm

    The school district could not provide these numbers because they can’t account for students who are homeschooled and not registered with the district, those who attend private schools, or for those students who attend school in Al (yes there are some) but live in Florida.

  3. SW on February 11th, 2024 11:13 am

    It’s okay. The state inspector will figure it all out.

  4. Anne on February 11th, 2024 10:21 am

    Seems an Official Legal Inquiry of the BANKS used by Esc Children’s Trust and the Urban Development Center for “Youth First Century” would answer Many Questions about the money that was loaned- borrowed and supposedly repaid to Century.
    Why has that not been done?
    What has happened to the Non-Consumable items such as Computers and Furniture. Some text/workbooks are used to write in by students and are “consumable”.
    Jessca Griffen is seemintly in charge of the Youth First Century program, she should be able, willing, to answer any and all inquiries.

  5. David Messmer on February 10th, 2024 11:46 pm

    Just another scam. Is there even 750 children in that age group living in Century? A simple request from the Escambia county school board should answer that question. Makes you say Hmmmmm!

  6. Give me a break on February 10th, 2024 8:45 pm

    Pretty sure this could be proven or not with a canceled check or a debit to the Town of Century account.


  7. Carolyn Bramblett on February 10th, 2024 6:54 pm

    Once again, how much money was spent on those 30 children?

  8. Jim on February 10th, 2024 12:45 pm

    Looks like a bit of flag waving after Rep. Salzman’s request for investigation of the ongoing shenanigans at the north end of our county.

  9. bob c. on February 10th, 2024 12:38 pm

    Where has the MONEY gone?
    Surely, someone in the downtown bunch of Escambia Children’s Trust Tax had to know of the loan that this Century bunch got from the Town of Century.
    Looks like there has been some really questionable use of TAXPAYER Money as Both the Town of Century and the Escambia Children’s Trust are FUNDED by OUR Taxes. Does anyone care enough to completely investigate this mess or is it so entrenched in the entitlement culture that WE TAXPAYERS are no longer provided answers as to how our monies are used?

  10. Chris on February 10th, 2024 12:26 pm

    “We’ll reach 700 children.” Reaches only 30. “We still need our money!”

  11. citizan on February 10th, 2024 12:21 pm

    The CEO Jessca Griffen needs to write the check for the FULL amount!!!!!

    Then show proof with bank statement or deposit slip.

  12. NPC on February 10th, 2024 11:49 am

    @Deb….This article presents facts not personal opinion. If no payment was made, that is a lie. If two payments were not made, that is another lie. The proposal was for 750 children but only reached 30. A short amount of research would have ahown the targeted age range was not feasible. This group was given a chance and to say they failed is an understatement.

    “I do want to emphasize that we appreciate you and everything you do,” Town council President Dynette Lewis told Griffen

    What did Griffen do?

  13. Oversight on February 10th, 2024 11:19 am

    Deb, the problem is this fraudulent scheme advertised that it would serve around 700 school kids. Right from the start, everybody who lives around here knew that this is an impossibility because 75% of the school aged children live elsewhere around North Escambia. If the now hoodwinked downtown grant folk of the tax grabbing Children’s Trust had done due diligence, this artifice wouldn’t have received a dollar.

  14. Deb on February 10th, 2024 10:50 am

    This group did a great job with the youth they served. There was no fraud. There was no lies, or cheating. No one ever gives anyone a chance. What is the matter with you people. So sick, so judgemental. Get a life and quit judgement. Say something nice about people. SO poisonous, so disgusting.

  15. Elijah Bell on February 10th, 2024 10:26 am

    Leadership in Century is failing and way too many Century citizens are letting it happen.

  16. JTV on February 10th, 2024 8:31 am

    If this isn’t true, someone needs to be in jail. Sounds like a whole lot of Hornswoggling going on.

  17. chris on February 10th, 2024 7:40 am

    Failed program. Unsecured loan. Alleged repayment without proof. Town of Century. What are “things that are alike?”

  18. Oversight on February 10th, 2024 6:55 am

    No record of payment produced equates to that it never happened or the payment was misappropriated.
    More town shenanigans with smoke and mirrors.