The United States Department of Education announced Monday, Dec. 19 that Mercer University will be one of 15 organizations that will receive the Promise Neighborhoods planning grants.
Another five organizations will receive the Promise Neighborhoods implementation grants.
The purpose of the Promise Neighborhood Program is to focus on the challenges and lack of opportunities for students and families in high poverty areas by providing support, plans and service that will help the students in those neighborhoods achieve success from infancy all the way through college graduation and job placement.
The program goes even further to help with prenatal care, counseling for pregnant mothers and bridging the gap between local Head Start centers and elementary schools. They have recognized that children need strong support systems inside and outside of the classroom in order to succeed after college.
The grants will help students in two of Macon’s at risk neighborhoods, Unionville and Tindall Heights. The four schools in those districts are Ingram-Pye and Hartley elementary schools, Ballard Hudson Middle School and Southwest High School.
Mercer University will serve as the financial representative for the grant. They have partnered with 35 local organizations including, Bibb County, Bibb County Schools, the City of Macon, the Macon Housing Authority, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, Central Georgia Technical College, local churches, non-profit organizations and organizations that provide support in those neighborhoods.
The process for the grant began two years ago with the support of Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and County Commissioner Chair Sam F. Hart Sr., who now serves as chair of the grant advisory board.
More than 200 nonprofit organizations in 45 states, institutions of higher learning, American Samoa and Puerto Rico applied for the grants in order to improve schools and revitalize unprivileged neighborhoods.
In the first round of implementations, grantees across the nation will be awarded $6 million over the course of three to five years receiving up to $30 million to provide support for infant to career placement opportunities after graduation.
Mercer University was the only grantee in the southeast to receive the grant of $500,000.
The Peyton Anderson Foundation will also donate $150,000 as a local matching requirement, making the total grant amount $650,000.
Dr. Peter Brown, professor of philosophy and the director of Mercer’s Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships, and Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, Senior Vice Provost for service learning, are the co-leaders of the grant. They, along with several other partners, took the time, effort and resources to complete the application.
“This will be a birth to career program…It will be an intensive, all-out commitment to the success of the students in these targeted neighborhoods. It will be coordinated, focused and measured for maximum impact,” said Dr. Brown in a press release on Mercer’s website.
The program is also at the core of the White House Neighborhood revitalization initiative, which focuses on renovating neighborhoods through education, health programs, federal housing and justice.
The five Promise Neighborhood implementation grantees are: Westminister Foundation (Buffalo N.Y.), Northside Achievement Zone (Minneapolis, Minn.), Berea College (Clay, Jackson, and Owsley Counties, Ky.), United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County Inc. (San Antonio, TX), and California State University-East Bay (Heyward Calif.).