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Community of Hope Hopes To Transform Jax's 32209

It’s the region of town with the highest rates of poverty, infant mortality, teen pregnancy, unemployment and violent crime.

The 32209 zip code is a community in crisis, that's according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

An initiative is underway to change the conditions in 32209, particularly for the neighborhood’s kids.

DCF is spearheading an event Thursday at Edward Waters College, called "Community of Hope."

State and local leaders will be on hand, trying to come up with an action plan to improve health and safety in this challenged part of the city.

"We're talking about a three mile by three mile section of town dealing with the most difficult problems, and we've got to pull together as a community to find solutions," says DCF's North Florida Regional Director David Abramowitz.

Mayor Alvin Brown and Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, along with Esther Jacobo, interim secretary of the Department of Children and Families, will all attend Thursday's kickoff event.

Abramowitz says the coalition that's formed from Community of Hope will provide progress reports at three-month intervals. "I will report out on our progress and hold us accountable if we aren't moving fast enough," he said.

The inaugural event is scheduled to begin at noon on Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Milne Auditorium at Edwards Waters College.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.