Grant foundation members visit

Published 8:16 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

Senior team members of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Evidence2Success (E2S) program were in Selma Thursday to get a closer look at how community leaders are going to implement the program in Selma and Dallas County.

The program is aimed at helping children live better lives and targeting certain problems in different communities.

Judge Robert Armstrong, who heads up the Dallas County Children’s Policy Council, said the foundation recently added two new team members to the E2S project that had not been to Selma yet, so they came to see it for themselves.

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“We talked to them about the good success we’ve had with all of our juvenile programs here and the great data that we’ve seen and improvements with that,” Armstrong said. “We showed them what HOPE Academy was doing and what Arsenal Place is doing and how Blue Jean [Church] is helping to fund some of those initiatives.”

The group also took a tour of Selma to see some of the city’s historic sites like the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Brown Chapel AME Church, as well as others.

“They were blown away,” Armstrong said. “Our juvenile statistics are stunning. They really are. Over a 12-year period we’ve dropped juvenile crime 70 percent. That just doesn’t happen, so when they saw all the graphs, statistics and the data that we have, they said this was phenomenal.”

The foundation got involved in the community when they awarded a $300,000 grant to the Dallas County Children’s Policy Council in October 2015. Selma was just one of three locations across the United States to receive the grant.

The other two were Mobile and Salt Lake City, Utah.

“There were only three sites selected for the E2S project in the U.S., and two of them ended up being in Alabama, one in Selma and one in Mobile as well. We’re the only small rural county that was selected to implement the project,” said Astrid Craig, E2S program director in Selma.

“We’re just really excited about evidence-based programs that can really change the tone of the community. It’s just something different for the youth.”

After the council got the grant, they surveyed students in the Selma City and Dallas County School Systems.

“We did surveys of a number of grades and we compiled the data, and then the Casey Foundation and their experts looked at the date, gave it back to us, and we were able to identify five or six of the most pressing issues in our community as identified by the kids,” Armstrong said.

The E2S community board in Selma will soon use those issues to select five different programs that will be launched this coming school year.