MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Big changes are coming to summer youth programs in Miami-Dade.

District 8 Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins announced on Monday the “SafeSummers Program.”

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Commissioner Higgins says the initiative will bring new resources and new youth centers while focusing on keeping kids safe and away from gun violence.

“It’s time we put our money where our mouth is — we can no longer be numb to the rise in violence in South Dade. The time for action is now. I am proud to launch SafeSummers and make this historic quarter of a million-dollar contribution to youth summer programming in District 8. By offering our at-risk youth a safe, productive alternative to idle time on the street, SafeSummers will serve as a one of our South Dade solutions to reducing crime and violence,” said Commissioner Higgins.

The funding will provide close to 400 at-risk children with full time summer programming in District 8 which encompasses a significant portion of southeastern Miami-Dade County, including Kendall and the Redland, along with three municipalities: Cutler Bay, Homestead and Palmetto Bay.

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The creation of SafeSummers will support seven community based organizations with allocations ranging from $5,000 – $70,000 for a total of $200,000.

“For many years, Gang Alternative has served families in Broward and North Dade, providing children with much-needed support to live successful, violence-free lives. We are grateful for Commissioner Cohen Higgins’ SafeSummers program that will allow us to serve South Dade, something we have been wanting to do for many years,” said CEO of Gang Alternative, Inc. Michael J. Nozile.

In addition, SafeSummers is allocating $56,000 to the Miami-Dade Parks’ Department to increase the capacity of full-time summer programming offered in District 8, including the proven leadership and apprenticeship program, Fit2lead.

“This will be a whole child, whole family, whole neighborhood evidence-based approach to keeping our children in our community safe, and also support revitalization within communities,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

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Cava also said Miami-Dade County will invest nearly $2 million to combat gun violence in the fall. Although not related to Commissioner Cohen Higgin’s SafeSummers program, the two efforts will complement each other when the Mayor launches her program.

CBSMiami.com Team