Local afternoon arts program secures funding, but still fears the future

Posted at 7:03 AM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 07:03:18-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Parents and community leaders are breathing a sigh or relief after Governor Rick Scott did not make more cuts to their after school arts program. However, they are still fearful their future may be in jeopardy. 

For Tiasha Rodriguez, a mother in Tampa’s University Area, she counts on the Prodigy Arts Program, run by the University Area Community Development Corporation. It focuses on reducing school violence and encouraging kids to express themselves through art.

Her son, a formerly shy 12-year-old boy, now has the self confidence he learned through the program's hip-hop dance program.

“They love it here,” Rodriguez said. “Not only because of the dancing but because of the people around them as well.”

However, a few years ago, the program suffered devastating budget cuts: an 83 percent cut from their budget. They nearly had to close their doors.

“We had to look those parents in they eye and tell them, we don't have a place for your child anymore,” said Sarah Combs, University Area Community Development Corporation.

While Governor Scott gave Prodigy the budget they were expecting this year, they are fearful more cuts could happen down the line.

“While there's been some devastating cuts, we need to rally together and fight out how we're going to continue to fight the good fight,” Combs said

Rodriguez says these programs help her family support each other, build a community and help keep her kids off the streets. This comes as she asks other parents to step in and help advocate for after school programs to local lawmakers.