Macon Children’s Promise Neighborhood Partnership Names New Project Director

March 8, 2012

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or vanderhoek_m@mercer.edu

MACON — Veteran child advocate Ebony Harris has been named the new project director for the Macon Children’s Promise Neighborhood initiative.  Funded by a one-year planning grant for $500,000 from the United States Department of Education, Macon is one of only 15 communities in the nation and the only one in the Southeast, to receive the planning grant from the department’s Promise Neighborhoods program. Macon’s initiative, which includes $150,000 of local funding from the Peyton Anderson Foundation, is targeted at improving student achievement in the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods, focusing on four schools in those neighborhoods: Ingram-Pye and Hartley elementary schools, Ballard Hudson Middle School and Southwest High School.
 
As project director, Harris will oversee the Children’s Promise Neighborhood Partnership project and serve as liaison between the more than 35 community agencies and partners involved in the grant. As director, she will be responsible for shaping the grant objectives, collecting data and assisting in Macon’s application for the full implementation Children’s Promise Neighborhood grant, which could lead to up to $6 million per year over five years to help children in Tindall Heights and Unionville succeed.

“Ebony brings the appropriate experience and enthusiasm to an exciting effort in our community,” said Bibb County Commission Chair Sam F. Hart Sr., who currently serves as chair of the Partner’s Council. “We are pleased that she has chosen to lead a team of diverse and excited community participants.”
 
Mercer University, which serves as fiscal agent for the grant, has partnered with the 35 local groups to develop the plan, including the City of Macon, Bibb County, Bibb County Schools, the Macon Housing Authority, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Central Georgia Technical College, as well as nonprofits, churches and organizations providing support within those neighborhoods. The planning grant process began with the support of Hart and Macon Mayor Robert Reichert two years ago.

“Ebony comes to us with a proven track record,” said Cliffard Whitby, vice-chair of Macon’s Promise Neighborhoods Partner’s Council. “She has a tenacious energy and spirit about herself that will go a long way in pulling us all together as we work towards a common goal. She is ambitious and eager to get started with this great and challenging work. We are excited to have her on board; her presence on the team only makes us stronger.”      

Harris, who began work Feb. 27, is excited to take on the challenge of improving the lives of children and their parents in the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods.

“This initiative will bring much-needed support and services to the children and families of Tindall Heights and Unionville neighborhoods,” Harris said. “There are a variety of committed partners to serve this community, and I am honored to have been chosen to head up this initiative. I’m looking forward to seeing and being a part of the positive outcomes that will come as a result of this initiative.”

Harris previously served as program director for Georgia’s Independent Living Program in the Department of Human Services, where she oversaw the program’s implementation in accordance with the federal John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and Education and Training Voucher. The program helps children in the state’s foster care system successfully transition to adulthood by offering a range of services that help them succeed after they leave the system. She previously served as a program director for The Haven Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla. Harris holds a Master of Arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Alabama State University.

About the Promise Neighborhoods Program:
The Promise Neighborhoods program aims to address significant challenges faced by students and families living in high-poverty communities by providing resources to plan and implement a continuum of services from early learning to college and career. President Obama recently highlighted Promise Neighborhoods in the Creating Pathways to Opportunity report that describes steps the administration has taken to reverse the growing income gap and create opportunity for all Americans. The program is also at the center of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which seeks to align federal housing, education, justice and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity. To learn more, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/promiseneighborhoods/index.html.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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