Head Start grant awarded to BBCF

Published 10:22 pm Monday, June 26, 2017

It’s been three days since the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) found out they were awarded a $1.4 million grant to run a Head Start program for Dallas and three other counties, and BBCF President Felecia Lucky can’t stop smiling.

“I’m still kicking my heels up in the air. I’m so excited,” Lucky said Monday. “We are really anticipating a celebration like no other with community because it is great. The organization’s name is on the grant application, but at the end of the day we’re representing the 200,000 residents that live in our Black Belt counties and specifically those that are in the four Head Start counties that will be impacted.”

The grant will fund a Head Start program for Dallas, Choctaw, Marengo and Wilcox counties, serving just over 300 children.

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The Central Alabama Child Development & CDC oversaw the Head Start program in those four counties until June 2015 when they lost federal funding. Since then, Community Development Institute Head Start, an interim operator out of Denver, Colorado, has over seen the programs.

Now, instead of an interim organization operating it, a local entity will once again oversee the program.

“I think it’s a win for the community overall. We feel that it is a huge, huge win for the community to have an organization that the community trusts to be at the helm, especially considering many of the changes the Head Start program has gone through,” Lucky said.

The BBCF was asked to apply for the grant after a meeting they hosted last year with Congresswoman Terri Sewell, where they learned about the grant and how to apply.

Lucky said Sewell played a large part in making this happen.

“She played an integral role in making sure that Head Start was managed locally, and we are really, really grateful for that,” Lucky said. “Of course, it’s personal for her because of this being home.”

Head Start prepares children for school for low income families. The programs operated by the BBCF will enroll children ages three to five.

“I’m a product of Head Start, and I think that’s one of the things that makes me most proud because it allows children … help with their development,” Lucky said. “I think back to my childhood days and how that helped prepare me.”

The main office for Head Start is located at Craig Field, and classrooms will be through the city and county at schools and other centers.

Lucky said there will also be centers in the other counties available for children.

There will be an informational meeting today for current Head Start staff to go over the next steps from noon until 1:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m.

A job fair, where Lucky said around 100 employees will be hired, will be held Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call back interviews will be Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All three events will be in the Wright Complex on Concordia College Alabama’s campus.

For more information, call the BBCF at (334) 874-1126.