The City of Little Rock has been awarded a $1 million Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for students and staff at Stephens Elementary School and Community Center.
Stephens Elementary, located on 18th St. in south Little Rock, is one of four community schools developed in partnership with the Little Rock School District over the past year. The three-year grant is meant to help foster closer ties between the school, the surrounding community, and the Little Rock Police Department. Thanks to the funds, the school will be better equipped with behavioral health services and interventional services related to violence, providing two full-time social workers for the school, among other programs.
“As we continue to emphasize, while we applaud the efforts of our Little Rock Police Department to reduce the rise in violence we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, it takes a community-wide effort to overcome crime,” said Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. “This grant is part of that community-wide response, engaging our schools and our families with social services to empower them to be partners in this effort.”
Little Rock Chief Education Officer Jay Barth, Ph.D. was part of the team who wrote the grant.
“Work on this grant began my second week as chief education officer,” said Barth, who just celebrated his second anniversary of the appointment. “I began meeting with a team about how we could work together to apply evidenced-based approaches to transforming the neighborhood in which the students and families of Stephens Elementary live.”
Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore said Stephens is an exemplar of the community schools initiative.
“Community schools are really about providing for the needs of our kids, and that’s exactly what’s at the heart of what we’re announcing today,” said Poore. “This grant and the programs it will provide will be a resource for our students and for our families in the Stephens community.”