Establish Neighborhood University

"Buckhorn wants to further empower existing neighborhood leaders and support the development of new leaders through the establishment of a Neighborhood University. The Neighborhood University will provide a formal leadership-training program for neighborhood leaders modeled on the Tampa Chamber’s successful Leadership Tampa program. In addition, the Neighborhood University will house and build upon the existing City’s Neighborhood Empowerment program offering enhanced technical support services for the City’s neighborhoods."


City begins accepting applications for Neighborhood University

After about five months of planning, Tampa officials began taking applications in July 2013 for the first class of activists to enroll in Mayor Bob Buckhorn's new Neighborhood University.

The goal is "building the next generation of neighborhood leaders,” Buckhorn said in an interview on July 17, 2013. It's needed, he said, because the bench of up-and-coming civic activists "is the same bench that was there when I started in 1987” as a special assistant to then-Mayor Sandy Freedman.

The class is open to anyone, though officials say space is limited to probably 20 to 30 participants. Starting Sept. 10, 2013, participants will meet 13 times over 12 weeks, generally from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. There is one Wednesday night session in October and a Saturday bus tour of city neighborhoods in November.

There is no cost, but officials say participants can miss no more than two sessions and must take part in a class community project to graduate. Classes will give participants a behind-the-scenes look at the mayor's office, city budget, police and fire departments, and public utilities, as well as help them better communicate with their own neighborhoods and City Hall.

City officials said the first round of applications was due at 5 p.m. July 26, 2013, and residents could apply by visiting tampagov.net/MayorsNeighborhoodUniversity.

When he ran for mayor, Buckhorn promised to create a Neighborhood University to give formal neighborhood leadership training to civic activists. He also promised to model his program on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Tampa program, which was launched in 1971. Leadership Tampa lasts longer — nine months — and covers a wider range of topics, including education, social services, the environment, economic development and the arts. But, like the Neighborhood University, Leadership Tampa offers its participants educational sessions, tours and conversations with people in leadership positions.

Now that the city is enrolling its first class, it is clear that Buckhorn has followed through on his campaign pledge. We now rate this Promise Kept.


Interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, July 17, 2013

City of Tampa news release, Mayor Buckhorn Launches Inaugural Neighborhood University — Applications for first class are being accepted through the end of July, accessed July 16, 2013

City of Tampa website, Mayors Neighborhood University, accessed July 16, 2013

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce website, Leading the Way for Tomorrow, accessed July 16, 2013

Buckhorn announces creation of Neighborhood University

As he campaigned in 2011, Buckhorn said he wanted to empower current and emerging neighborhood leaders by establishing a Neighborhood University.

On Feb. 22, 2013, Buckhorn announced the creation of the program. The idea, he said, is to build a generation of activists ready to take on leading roles.

"The neighborhood leaders I started with back in 1987 are still the neighborhood leaders today,” said Buckhorn, a special assistant to former Mayor Sandy Freedman in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The goal is to "ensure some continuity” of leadership.

The model for the university is the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Tampa program for business professionals. A year ago, City Hall provided PolitiFact Florida with a draft plan for the university showing that the program would include an explanation of neighborhood associations and how they can improve communities; an introduction to city government; leadership training; and communications advice.

It will be free, Buckhorn said, but many other details remain to be worked out, including how people in the class will be selected and how big the class will be.

The curriculum is in the works, and Buckhorn expects it to include instruction on zoning and land use, code enforcement, how various agencies work with each other, how to interact with the City Council and information about community development grants. Buckhorn said he hopes the first class would start within a couple of months.

As a candidate, Buckhorn promised to create a Neighborhood University to help civic leaders learn their way around City Hall. The program he has announced matches the basic promise, but details about when it will start and how it will work are sketchy at best. Until we see more, we continue to rate this promise In the Works.


Interviews with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 22 and Feb. 26, 2013

Interview with Jake Slater, Tampa director of neighborhood services, Feb. 22, 2013

City of Tampa news release, Buckhorn to Create Neighborhood University for Next Generation of Neighborhood Leaders, Feb. 22, 2013

City is finalizing Neighborhood University program

Candidate Bob Buckhorn said during the campaign for Tampa mayor he would launch a "neighborhood university” program. Such a program is now being finalized by the city's Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations.

A draft proposal obtained by PolitiFact Florida showed the program is set to include an an explanation of neighborhood associations and how they can improve communities; an introduction to city government; leadership training; and communications advice.

The program has yet to be rolled out, but we see enough here to rate this promise In the Works.


Interview with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 28, 2012

Email interview with Ali Glisson, public affairs director for the city of Tampa, Feb. 28, 2012 and March 30 2012