HOPE is a multi-issue, grassroots, community organization consisting of 24 multicultural and interfaith member congregations throughout Hillsborough County. HOPE is a non-partisan, private, non-profit, 501(c) 3, tax-exempt, community organization founded and incorporated in the State of Florida in 1988.



HOPE’s mission is to promote justice, fairness, and the dignity of people, by engaging and training people to responsibly and successfully act together to hold officials accountable to improve the systems affecting the quality of life in our communities. We do that by a) training residents to identify common community problems experienced by families and neighbors, b) meeting with local experts and decision makers to better understand the problems and identify long-term solutions, and c) take action to hold decision makers accountable to implement the long-term systemic solutions.

HOPE is funded in three ways: 1) Membership Dues from member organizations; 2) Investments from individuals, small businesses, and local corporations; and 3) Private Grants.  HOPE does not accept United Way or Government funds.

HOPE’s Long-range goals are:

  1.  Strengthening the ability of members to act on their values of love, respect, fairness and dignity of people.
  2.  Engaging members in listening and relationship building to identify and prioritize common community problems;
  3.  Enhancing the skills of members to connect with others to build the power needed to hold our social, political and economic systems accountable for fair policies and procedures that ensure justice;
  4.  Correcting inequities in education, housing, healthcare, employment, criminal justice, transportation, public services, police protection, and neighborhood infrastructure.

Here’s a list of some of HOPE’s successful issue work – we’re proud of our members’ effective justice work!

Arrest Avoidance

Local Civil Citations:  Encouraged local Law Enforcement, the Chief Judge, State Attorney and Public Defender to implement a permanent policy that expands the use of the non-arrest Civil Citation Programs in Hillsborough County by offering Youth Citations with assessment, community service and needed treatment to children caught with a small amount of marijuana. Civil citations increase public safety by reducing by half the likelihood of a child reoffending and saves taxpayers $4,500 per civil citation.

State Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance:  Helped expand the Florida Civil Citation law so children can receive a civil citation/arrest avoidance program up to three times in their childhood for non-serious misdemeanors — instead of being arrested.  


Fair Chance Hiring:  Persuaded Tampa City Council to pass the Tampa Criminal History Screening Practices “Ban the Box” Ordinance to reduce discrimination and open doors to jobs — by removing the question about a criminal history from initial applications for jobs with the City of Tampa. Hillsborough County then passed a similar ordinance for those applying for jobs with Hillsborough County.

Job Training:  Got Hillsborough Community College to create 9 Fast Track Job Skill Certificate Programs to equip people with needed job skills and do outreach to the unemployed regarding the programs.

Public Transportation

Bus Service:  Successfully encouraged HART to extend late night bus service until 1:00 A.M. on 8 major bus routes during the week and two extra hours on weekends, as well as construct bus shelters at identified locations.


Dental:  Healthcare Centers established at least 36 more dental chairs, increasing access to dental services for over 4,500 more low-income people in the first year, as well as leading to the building of two new clinics.

Substance Abuse Treatment:  Helped expand Drug Court, giving 4,000 more non-violent offenders the opportunity to get needed substance abuse treatment, instead of going to jail.

Homelessness and Housing

Birth Certificates and IDs:  Encouraged Hillsborough County to establish a program to assist people who are homeless in getting birth certificates and IDs in order to obtain shelter, housing, and employment.

Expedited Rent Assistance:  Got Hillsborough County and the Clerk of the Circuit Court to help reduce homelessness by committing to expedite rent assistance checks to landlords so they receive checks within 14 days.

Education Reform

Suspensions:  Got the School District to establish the district wide Alternative To Out-of-School Suspension (ATOSS) program that supervises and protects the GPAs of at least 11,000 children who each year are suspended out of school. Secured a commitment from the school district to uphold Florida Statutes and not suspend children out of school for tardiness.

Reading:  Positively impacted the reading success of hundreds of low-income children in Kindergarten to 3rd grade, as well as Special Education, through the School District’s implementation of a phonics-based reading program called Direct Instruction (DI).  Helped secure $921,000 of state funding for the Hillsborough County School District to implement DI in 10 low-income schools and $7.25 million during the 2000 Legislative Session for use of DI in 7 Florida School Districts.

Minority Teachers:  Secured employment of a Minority Teacher Recruiter by the School District.

Neighborhood Improvement

Rezoning: Reclaimed a historic residential African American West Tampa neighborhood, Dobyville, by reversing Industrial Zoning to Residential and Mixed Use Zoning, leading to the maintenance and development of new and old housing.

Demolition:  Successfully encouraged the Mayor of Tampa to demolish and clean up the abandoned Belmont Heights Lumber Company, a dangerous health, safety, and fire hazard in the East Tampa community.

Sidewalks:  Convinced the City of Tampa to construct a 1.2-mile sidewalk on 22nd Street in East Tampa at a cost of $65,000 to City of Tampa, which led to construction of many other sidewalks in the area.

Code Enforcement:  Persuaded the City of Tampa to rehabilitate or demolish 200 condemned buildings and cut over 100 gravely overgrown and dangerous empty lots, as well as a 50% increase in Tampa Code Enforcement Budget.

Infrastructure:  Obtained traffic signs, street repair, drainage, and upgraded street lighting in Belmont Heights, Ybor City, Tampa Heights and Jackson Heights from Tampa’s Department of Public Works.

Prostitution:  Convinced the Code Enforcement Division, Tampa Police Department, and City Council to clean up the prostitution and illegal drug activity on and around a Hispanic congregation, Daycare Center and Health Clinic on N. Nebraska Avenue.

Leadership Development

Training:  Hundreds of individual members each year attend workshops to develop important skills related to leadership, issue development, and community organization.

Want to find out more? Contact us here!