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Letter from the Mayor

Greetings West Palm Beach Residents, Business Owners, and Stakeholders: 

I am excited to share that the City of West Palm Beach continues to make progress on implementing the recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force for Racial and Ethnic Equality. These recommendations were influenced by your feedback, and we want to make sure that the residents, business owners, and stakeholders of West Palm Beach are kept apprised of our progress. This page was created as a tool to identify which recommendations are being advanced by specific administrative and/or Commission actions. Through a description of the City’s progress, this page will show the progress being made by the City to ensure accountability as the City works moves forward with historic financial and resource investments to build a more equitable city. 

Yours in Service, 

Mayor Keith A. James 

Task Force Recommendation Tracker

Criminal Justice Subcommittee Recommendations

Recommendation: Provide and promote a more accessible portal for community members to share information or file complaints of misconduct toward police officers and provide the choice for citizens to remain anonymous.

  • Action: In May 2023, the City of West Palm Beach rolled out SaferWatch, a program that helps residents and visitors stay safe, informed, and prevent crime. This new initiative allows people to text photos, videos, or live-stream directly to the 911 Emergency Communications Center and Strategic Intelligence Center.  Police can also send real-time alerts about major incidents to keep residents informed and safe. The free SaferWatch app aligns with Mayor Keith James’ commitment to enhancing a customer-friendly culture in City Hall that focuses on neighborhood initiatives, regional collaboration, and community partnerships. SaferWatch does not replace 911 in an emergency but provides technological capabilities that are not currently possible using conventional phones. SaferWatch is free on Apple and Android devices. Download the application and learn more at Saferwatchapp.com

  • Action: In April 2024, Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) assessed the West Palm Beach Police Department to examine all aspects of our agency’s policies and procedures, management, training, operations, and support services. Passing this assesssment will make sure that WPBPD is in compliance with the CFA accreditation standards. The agency was initially awarded accredited status by CFA in 2015 and was reviewed every three years to verify continued compliance. This year will be the department’s fourth re-accreditation with CFA, after previously accredited with CALEA between 2000-2012. As part of the assessment, agency members and the general public were invited to offer comments to the assessment team.

  • On May 28, 2024, the Mayor and City Commission approved two resolitions to accept and appropriate a $140,673 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office to fund officer recruitment, retention, and workforce diversification to re-establish and fund a Police Explorer program.

 

Last updated: April 20, 2024

Education & Workforce Development Subcommittee Recommendations

Recommendation: Improve information sharing and outreach for access to existing education, career, and workforce opportunities

  • ActionOpportunity Knocks was an online resource dedicated to the sharing of information about job trainings, workforce development opportunities, and job fairs hosted by the private sector.

  • Action: In April 2024, The City of West Palm Beach announced the launch of the WPB Mayor Education Partnership Grant. Mayor Keith A. James and the WPB Education Advisory Committee have provided up to $4,000 in funding to interested elementary schools located within the City, enabling students to engage in enriching learning experiences in the fields of reading, math, science, and/or history in a practical, collaborative context with our local nonprofits. All West Palm Beach elementary schools have the opportunity to apply. For more information, please contact Commission President Ward’s Office at (561) 822–1390 or the chair of the program at EAC@wpb.org.

Recommendation: Leverage business, philanthropic, and private partnerships and offer incentives to businesses to support workforce development and education programs

  • ActionThe City announced the opening of the AgDiscovery application season. The free summer outreach program, facilitated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is designed to assist teenagers in exploring careers in agricultural sciences. For more details, please visit the USDA APHIS website here.

Recommendation: Develop strategies to address barriers that people have faced when trying to access workforce training or career development programs

  • ActionThe Eva W. Mack Community Hub was developed to serve as a resource for residents seeking job opportunites and housing assistance.

Last Updated: April 18, 2024

Finance, Banking & Business Subcommittee Recommendations

Recommendation: Develop or support initiatives that solicit bids from and offer contracts to small- and medium-sized minority-owned businesses from both city and private enterprises in multiple languages

  • Action: In the Spring of 2023, the City of West Palm Beach launched First Steps: Small Business and Minority/Women Business Enterprise Grant Programs. This $500,000 funding initiative was offered for four areas critical to small business success including marketing, inventory/equipment, property improvement, and new business development.

  • Action: In observance of Small Business Week, the City hosted the West Palm Beach Small Business Resource Fair on May 10, 2023. The objective of the event was to allow Small Businesses to network, get SBE-, M/WBE- Certified, and learn about upcoming business opportunities.

Recommendation: Target programs towards financial education, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship with a focus on youth and young adults 

  • Action: Mayor’s Jumpstart Academy (MJA) – In Partnership with Urban League of Palm Beach County, Justine Petersen and the Co. Starters network, MJA provides underrepresented and underserved communities with credit building and entrepreneurship training that will help starters go from an idea to a business in 90 days (about 3 months). To learn more and sign up for the MJA mailing list, please visit the MJA webpage.

  • Action: In August 2023, the City of West Palm Beach, Office of Small Minority/Women Business Programs partnered with The Foundation Builders and Sophisticated Out Loud to host STEM in the City Forum. This event covered the importance of STEM careers in the black community, the disparity in the statistics, STEM advancement in America’s future, how to foster more black-owned STEM businesses, and highlights how the panelists advanced their careers and businesses within STEM fields. This event is STEM-focused but will share tips and tools for advancing all businesses overall within the black community. To register for this event, click the link here: https://STEMintheCity.eventbrite.com

Last Updated: August 15, 2023

Health Subcommittee Recommendations

Recommendation: Prioritize policies aimed at ensuring equitable access to and increased education about healthy, affordable food options 

  • Action: City of West Palm Beach has partnered with Florida A&M University’s Cooperative Extension Program to provide educational programs and activities to City of West Palm Beach residents, including: 
    • 4H development programs 
    • Family consumer science nutrition, financial literacy, senior living & aging, emergency preparedness & safety 
    • Community gardening 
  • Action: FAMU will be overseeing three community gardens that will serve residents in our north and south communities. The community gardens are to be located at Coleman Park Community Center, the Gloria Y. Williams Multicultural Center in Pleasant City, and Phipps Park on South Dixie Highway. The Coleman Park Community Garden opened in January 2023 and the Pleasant City Community Garden opened in July 2023. The Phipps Park Community Garden, the third and final garden. is being developed.   To learn more about the initiative, please visit the WPB & FAMU Partnership webpage.

  • Action: On November 13, 2023, the Mayor and City Commission approved two resolutions accepting a grant for $10,000 from Simply Healthcare Plans for a gardening program at the Pleasant City Youth Empowerment Center (YEC) and a second resolution appropriating the funds to integrate healthy gardening and healthy eating habits programs for students at the YEC.

  • Action: The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach partners with the School Board of Palm Beach County to feed children and teenagers free nutritious lunches and snacks during the summer. 2023 will be the first summer this partnership will extend to the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to provide children and teenagers attending City summer camps access to free lunch and snacks. City summer camp locations to be served lunch include South Olive, Vedado Park, Gaines Park, and Pleasant City. All meals and snacks are provided by the School Board of Palm Beach County at no charge and meet USDA guidelines for the National School Lunch Program. 

  • Action: The City of West Palm Beach has continued its participation in the Afterschool Meals Program, a component of the Childcare Food Program administered by the Florida Department of Health. This initiative aims to provide nutritious snacks and meals to children enrolled in afterschool programs across the community.

Recommendation: Increase availability and access to mental health resources and services, especially in underserved communities

  • Action: In September 2023, Mayor Keith A. James assembled a panel of community leaders and experts at the Mandel Public Library Auditorium for a critical discussion on mental health issues affecting the City of West Palm Beach and neighboring communities. The panel discussed mental health policy initiatives, advocating for financial transparency, multi-stakeholder engagement, community awareness and engagement, and inclusivity and outreach

Last Updated: April 20, 2024

Real Estate & Housing Subcommittee Recommendations

Recommendation: Develop programs that target the use of vacant lots, support partnerships to buy distressed properties, and build affordable housing on city-owned land 

  • Action: The 600 in 3 initiative implemented by the city’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) department, aims to create 600 workforce and/or affordable housing units in our city within the next three years.  

  • Action: On February 19, 2023, in accordance with 24 CFR 91.505, the City of West Palm Beach proposed allocating program funds in the amount of $1,474,119 to the development of affordable rental housing. If accepted, the City will utilize these funds to acquire, construct, or rehabilitate affordable rental housing to increase the current rental housing stock available to low- and moderate-income individuals. The full document can be viewed on the City’s website at https://www.wpb.org/government/housing-community-development/reports

  • Action: On November 13th, the Mayor and City Commission approved a resolution declaring six City-owned vacant parcels as not needed for City purposes and are suitable for development of affordable/workforce housing.

    Recommendation: Prioritize greater investment in programs that help people, especially historically excluded populations, purchase and maintain homes 

    • Action: WPB has partnered with the Florida Housing Coalition to invest in Black homeownership by participating in Closing the Gap, a Florida Housing Coalition Center for Racial Equity program. Through this 24-month program, the city will learn how to close the racial gap in homeownership by learning historic patterns of discrimination that may lead to racial inequalities and how to combat them. To learn more visit the West Palm Beach Closing the Gap website.

    • Action: The City of West Palm Beach has launched WPB Key, an online and mobile-app-based service that connects residents with staff to request support on various needs and allows residents to track the progress of those requests. Residents can make service requests related to water issues, sanitation, inspections and permits, container requests, sanitation pick-up, assistance programs, and more.

    Last updated: November 20, 2023

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