The Promised Neighborhood grant is a joint effort by the United States Departments of Justice and Education to help improve low performing schools and communities by changing the way kids spend their after school hours, particularly the hours between 2:00 and 7:30pm. While there are several different agencies in Meridian that offer after school programs, this program focuses on the whole child.
Randle Jennings, the education chair for the NAACP, explains the program. "What's different about this is that it is a conglomerate effort, a holistic effort, where we deal with the whole child. We deal with the social, the mental, the physical, and also the spiritual makeup of what's needed for children early on in age, 4 to 14-year-olds, giving them a chance to kinda better understand where they're going in their lives."
If the NAACP can raise the necessary $400,000 in matching funds, they want to start at the beginning of the year.
Jennings says, "Right now, we're shooting for January. We believe that if we can put this in place, we can be ready in January. If not by January, by spring because we feel like we've got everything in place. We've run versions of this in different areas; we've seen how this has been run, all we're trying to do now is just do a holistic approach to this thing."
Councilwoman Barbara Henson things this program has potential. "This is a beginning. You know, it's not just going happen and it's going to be a success, but I think it has possibilities, and anything that will help young folks get their lives straight with the Lord and the community, that's fine with me."
Henson tells us she does not agree completely with the proposal as written, but would favor Council support with some adjustments.