The beginning of a nearly 10-year effort to address poverty in the Griffin-Spalding County area was a grant from the UGA Initiative on Poverty to look at ways to keep kids in school. From that initial grant (and another one in 2008) a program has been built that has engaged the community, enlisted hundreds of people in the effort, brought in a $1 million federal grant, created the Partners for a Prosperous Griffin-Spalding County, and has established an Educational Prosperity Initiative that is revitalizing the area around Griffin’s public housing development.
Outreach activities have included an after school tutoring program at Moore Elementary School along with an adult/student mentoring program.
Through the UGA-Griffin Kids University/Enriching Young Minds program over 80 children who are residents of the Griffin Housing Authority participated in on-campus programs in the summer of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Activities included science and technology instruction as well as art, animation and photography, and healthy living instruction. In addition the UGA Young Scholar program supported high school students selected by GHA to work on campus in the summer to engage in research with faculty members. Also, a grant from Georgia Tech has allowed the EPI to begin a Zero Robotics program for elementary students.
A financial/personal training program led by faculty in the department of Housing and Consumer Economics conducted a survey of residents regarding the need for financial and personal training.
The Children’s Backpack Food for Kids is an initiative that addresses the issue of food insecurity faced by children who leave school on Friday’s and eat little to nothing until they return to school on Monday’s. Through the efforts of the UGA-Griffin Campus and the Spalding Collaborative, backpacks of non-perishable food items are delivered to children in numerous schools. Over 200 children were served in 2013. Funding for this program has also been increased through a yearly 5-k run sponsored by Spalding Regional Medical Center and a grant from the Caterpillar Corporation.
The Spalding County Extension office and the Center for Urban Agriculture established a community garden at the site of the Fairmont EPI. The purpose of the Healthy Living Community Garden is to help the Fairmont community grow fresh produce, raise beautiful flowers, and cultivate healthy, caring neighborhoods. Nearly $40,000 has been spent so far to establish this neighborhood garden adjacent to the public housing facility.
This program has built new collaborations at the University of Georgia-Griffin Campus between the College of Education, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, the College of Environment and Design, and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. In addition collaboration between researchers at the Griffin Campus, and economists from the Experimental Economics Laboratory at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Experimental Economics program at George Mason University are ongoing.