Justice Department awards Little Rock $ 1 million for violence reduction and community schools

City of Little Rock officials say a new grant from the US Department of Justice will help reduce crime by investing in education.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced Monday that the $ 1 million grant will go to the Little Rock School District Community Schools initiative. At a press conference, he also said the funding would help complement other community programs aimed at tackling violent crime.

“Thanks to this community approach, we have what we are working on with our model of community schools, but also the work we have done through the municipal council to mobilize nearly $ 2 million for intervention proposals. against community violence… the streets to involve more organizations within the community to continue to help reduce violence in our community, ”said Scott.

Little Rock Education Director Jay Barth said the grant would also help fund a program to address the trauma associated with violent crime and build trust between police and the community. He says the funding will be used to hire two social workers who will be based at Stephens Elementary School.

“One will focus mainly on what is going on inside the school, the other will focus more on the external community, but they will work as partners,” said Barth. “It is important to note that, thanks to a combination of grants and municipal funds, we are now on track to implement social workers in the four community schools over the next two months. “

Barth says the city has received more than $ 2.2 million in grants so far to help fund after-school programs focused on the arts, pantries, school gardens and behavioral health programs, among others. . U.S. Republican Representative French Hill R-Little Rock hailed the investment as helping to create safer neighborhoods.

“It involves our police, it means taking guns off the streets, it means better jobs,” Hill said. they need and the work they need to produce the income they need to raise a family in a safe, well-nourished and well-educated place.

Little Rock officials first approved the city’s community school model in 2019. Chicot, Watson, Washington and Stephens elementary schools currently follow the community schools model, which emphasizes role of the school as a hub for the community.

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