Grant would aid inner-city students

Grant would aid inner-city students

June 22nd, 2010 by Yolanda Putman in News

Harlem Children's Zone Project

Of the 161 four-year-olds that entered the Harlem program in the 2008-09 school year, 17 percent had a school readiness classification of "delayed" or "very delayed." By the end of the year, there were no students classified as "very delayed."

The percentage of advanced students among 4-year-olds increased from 33.5 percent to 65.2 percent

Source: Harlem Children's Zone website.

ON THE WEB

The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies has established a website to get feedback on the first community meeting held earlier this month about the Chattanooga Promise Neighborhood proposal. The site is at www.chattanoogapromisezone.org.

BY THE NUMBERS

* 4,000 children are born in Hamilton County every year.

* 30 percent of children born between 2004 and 2006 had mothers whose annual household incomes were below $10,000.

* 25 percent of children born between 2001 and 2006 had mothers who lacked a high school diploma.

* 14 percent of all children born between 2001 and 2006 had mothers who were still teenagers.

* 10 percent of children born between 2001 and 2006 had low birth weight and were at risk for developmental delays.

Source: Newspaper archives

Dylon Porter has a seventh-grader with behavior problems, a 10th-grader who failed biology and a graduating 12th-grader who can't find a scholarship to college.

News that Chattanooga is trying to get money to help her and her children is nice, she said, but she's taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"It could help, but then you never know," said Ms. Smith, 33, a single mother of five.

Some of the poorest people in the city will have the opportunity to educate themselves out of poverty, officials say, if the Chattanooga Community Foundation and others are successful in establishing a Chattanooga Promise Neighborhood.

"People get tired of being poor," said Chattanooga City Councilman Manny Rico. "Education helps end poverty."

Mr. Rico is among several community leaders backing the city's effort to secure about $500,000 in federal grant money to establish Chattanooga as a Promise Neighborhood.

"This is just the start," Mr. Rico said.

Chattanooga Promise Neighborhood will be modeled after the Harlem's Children's Zone Project and is intended to provide inner-city children with all the support they need to graduate college and launch work careers.

More than 900 organizations have applied for the Neighborhood Promise grants so far. Only 20 will be awarded, said Pete Cooper, president of the Chattanooga Community Foundation.

The foundation will submit the application for the grant on Wednesday, he said, and an answer is expected by September.

Ms. Porter said she remembers hearing promises made by the No Child Left Behind Act, but she still sees children not reaching their potential.

A hotel room attendant who also has an eighth-grader on the honor roll and an 11th-grade son who is a father, said she dropped out of school in the 11th grade. But she plans to get her GED and become a physical therapist, she said.

Mr. Rico said the Community Foundation and other nonprofit organizations will continue looking for more money even if they don't get the $500,000 grant, Mr. Rico said. City officials, nonprofits and the Hamilton County School system are interested in doing the program on a smaller scale, he said.

The Hamilton County and Chattanooga governments each agreed to allocate $75,000 if the foundation is successful in getting the grant.

In Hamilton County, one in four children are at risk of not being ready for kindergarten, according to the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies.

If the money comes through, the Chattanooga Promise Neighborhood will start at Hardy Elementary School. If successful there, the program will encompass all 11,000 children living from the Tennessee River to Missionary Ridge, the area of the city with the highest concentration of poverty.

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