ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A $164,455 federal grant from the Department of Justice will soon be in the hands of five different St. Pete organizations that all share the same goal of getting at-risk kids and teens on the right path.

The St. Pete Police Department applied for and was awarded the grant through the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. They plan to distribute the funds at a ceremony set for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Where's the grant money going? 

  • Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation -$84,455.00 to help middle school students succeed in high school

  • Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts -$10,000 for art education field trips

  • Great Explorations: $5,000 for educational materials for after-school programs for Title 1 children

  • Morean Arts Center : $15,000 for for art camp scholarships 

  • Arts Conservatory for Teens: $50,000 to support staffing to increase participation in performance arts

The Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation is receiving $84,455, or just over half, of the grant funding in order to assist middle school students in their transition to high school.

According to the foundation’s founder, their goal is to help close the achievement gap for black/brown/multi-race children in the "at-risk" community of South St. Pete and break the cycle of generational poverty.

Through the foundation’s M.A.S.T.R. Kids and High School M.A.S.T.R. Plan program, students work with teachers on reading, math, and science skills. Students in the program also participate in STEM activities, take weekly trips to the Woodson African American Museum of Florida for history lessons, and have a number on hands on learning experiences. 

The next layer of the program includes a partnership with Pinellas Technical College so students can get experience in different career fields.

“It’s important give back to the youth in our community,” Darren Hammond, the program’s operations manager explained. “It helps to keep our youth out of trouble and give them something to do in the summer with options of different careers and career paths they may want to choose.”

Hammond says the grant funding will go towards expanding their offerings with Pinellas Technical College so more students can participate.

Currently, the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation has 200 students enrolled. They hope to grow to 400 by the end of 2025.

This is the third time the St. Pete Police Department has received this grant to fund programs that provide positive activities for kids with a foundation of education.

The goal is to remove economic barriers in hopes that it will divert teens from potential criminal activity and steer them toward positive goals.