Macon Children's Promise initiative hires new director

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Ebony Harris was recently named the new director of the Macon Children’s Promise Neighborhood initiative. This one year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education is the only one of its kind in the entire southeast U.S., and it is one of just 15 across the country. The more local Peyton Anderson Foundation is also funding the project with $150,000.
A well-known child advocate, Harris will oversee the Children’s Promise Neighborhood Partnership project. As director, she will be the connecting piece between the three dozen agencies and partners in the Middle Georgia community that are involved in the initiative. The program is designed to improve student achievement in Macon. More specificially, it will target Unionville and Tindall Heights, which are home to Ingram-Pye Elementary School, Hartley Elementary School, Ballard-Hudson Middle School and Southwest High School.
Along with serving as the true liaison for the project, she will be fine-tuning the program as Macon applies for the full program. In this, she will better shape and target the initiative’s grant objectives and collect any data that will help Macon ready their application. The full Children’s Promise Neighborhood grant can see Macon get $6 million per year for the next five years in order to help Unionville and Tindall Heights youths succeed.
Mercer University is the fiscal agent for this program, making sure things run smoothly financially. Mayor Robert Reichert and Bibb County Commission Chair Sam Hart started planning for this moment two years ago. “Ebony brings the appropriate experience and enthusiasm to an exciting effort in our community. We are pleased that she has chosen to lead a team of diverse and excited community participants,” Hart said.
“This initiative will bring much-needed support and services to the children and families of Tindall Heights and Unionville neighborhoods,” Harris said, showing her excitement to tackle the issues that are stopping children from achieving in both Unionville and Tindall Heights. She began work on February 27.
Harris previously served with Georgia’s Independent Living Program as the program director. That was under the Department of Human Services. She has experience in managing federal programs, because under her tenure as program director there, the program was successful in implementing the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. It is focused on ensuring the successful matriculation to being adults for kids in foster care services.
There will be a 26 member advisory council that is made up of a variety of people under Harris. Included in this are seven publically elected officials from Central South Macon and three more residential leaders. They will attempt to create more successful environments for the 2,067 students enrolled in the four schools. These neighborhoods have 88.1 percent of their residents under the poverty line. 48.2 percent of the district’s adults lack a high school diploma.
If successful and a recipient of the full implementation of the program, Macon Children’s Promise Neighborhood will expand to the children in Bloomfield as well. The variety of leaders under Harris will also formulate plans as to expand their directive in other ways.

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