On Thursday, May 2, the Bibb County School board voted to give acting superintendent Susanne Griffin-Ziebart the power to move forward with the Macon Promise Neighborhoods project.
Macon Promise Neighborhoods project is designed to provide support for children and their families who live in the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods in Macon.
The long-term goal of Macon Promise Neighborhood is to end generational poverty, improve children’s achievement in school, and provide children and their parents the same choices and opportunities typically associated with neighborhoods with greater resources.
According to the 2010 census, 31.9 percent of Macon live below the poverty level. The state average is 16.5 percent.
The genesis of this program started with the Obama administration.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education had officially launched the Promise Neighborhood program which was the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas.
“We need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to lifting our families and our communities out of poverty,” President Barack Obama said. “Promise Neighborhoods will support a number of different services and educational reforms to help improve the lives of our young people from birth through childhood, from college through a career.”
Bibb County voted for Barack Obama with approximately 60 percent of the vote in 2008 and 2012. However, local conservatives who sit on the Bibb Board of Education have waged efforts to prevent this program from being fully implemented.
In December 2011, a collaborative effort led by Mercer University was awarded a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant.
In June 2012, the Bibb County school board agrees to commit up to $250,000 in resources per year from each of four schools for a period of 10 years — a total of up to $10 million.
The schools are Ingram-Pye Elementary, Hartley Elementary, Ballard-Hudson Middle and Southwest High.
In July 2012, former Superintendent Romain Dallemand signed an agreement with dozens of other Macon Promise Neighborhood partners, committing $19.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions from the school district.
The efforts by Dallemand and some members of the Bibb County School Board were designed to improve Bibb County public school students a better chance of success – from helping kids be healthy upon entering kindergarten to supporting students to graduate and enter college or career training.
When the renovation is finished, the building will house early education programs, parenting classes, career planning, and other community projects.