Ensuring long-term economic growth
For the past three decades, the foundation has been committed to investing in projects in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta regions, primarily in Phillips County, Arkansas, and Coahoma County, Mississippi. Working with grantees in the region, the foundation supports basic needs through four initiatives that will help ensure the long-term economic growth of the region.
Pre-K-12 Educational Improvement
We believe there are wonderful opportunities to influence positive change in education in the Delta. In fact, one of the real success stories of education in Arkansas can be found in the Delta. KIPP Delta Public Charter School began in 2002 to provide an alternative to traditional public schools. Today, it is one of the top high schools of any kind in Arkansas.
The foundation is dedicated to building more success stories like this and helping students achieve beyond their expectations in the classroom. For that reason, we will invest in new high-quality public charter schools for low-income and underserved students and work to improve existing charter and traditional public school options.
Grantees include: KIPP Delta Public Schools, Teach for America, Arkansas Tech Leadership Program and University of Arkansas Principal Fellows Program.
Improve Public Safety
Meeting the basic needs of residents in the Delta is necessary before meaningful economic development can occur. One of those basic quality of life necessities is the desire to feel safe in one’s home and community. Crime and public-safety issues have been identified as a key factor in hindering community and economic development. Therefore, it is essential to tackle this challenge by investing in and implementing bold measures designed to reduce property and violent crime rates in Phillips County, Arkansas, and Coahoma County, Mississippi.
Grantees include: National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office and Mississippi State Survey Research Laboratory.
Engage and Develop Young People
Engaging young people outside of the classroom with constructive programs that encourage positive behaviors can lead to success inside the classroom.Idle time can often lead to poor choices for youth. Providing a means through which children can positively channel their energies will help to reduce criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy rates while increasing school attendance and graduation rates.
Rural areas, such as those in the Delta, are challenged to provide quality after-school programs because of a lack of transportation resources and the scarcity of quality personnel. The foundation will support programs that contain a component of effective social and academic skill-building. One such grantee is the Phillips County Boys and Girls Club.
Invest in Targeted Job Creation
Focused and intentional action must be taken in terms of job creation in the Delta. Until the basic needs of educational improvement, public safety and engagement of young people are met – employment opportunities must come from existing regional resources. The foundation will invest funds to help maximize opportunities within the tourism industry. While agriculture continues to drive the economic engine of the Delta, there is untapped potential within tourism.
The region has a rich history regarding the Civil War, suitable for robust tourism activity. The Delta is also the birthplace of the Blues. The King Biscuit Blues Festival is the premier event for this genre of music attracting tourists from all over the nation and world. Through these very specific economic development initiatives, the foundation believes incremental job growth can be achieved in both Phillips County, Arkansas, and Coahoma County, Mississippi.
Grantees include: King Biscuit Blues Festival and Civil War tourism projects.
As we continue our work with Delta region grantees, progress will be determined by key indicators such as:
- New jobs generated;
- Reduced poverty and unemployment rates;
- Increased affordable housing;
- Participation in youth programs; and
- Increased student achievement.