Clarksdale Pre-K receives $158,000 grant from Delta Bridge Project


CLARKSDALE, Miss. – Coahoma County’s Delta Bridge Project recently announced a grant to the Clarksdale Municipal School District’s Pre-K program for $158,000. Pre-K has been a local focus of the school district for the past two years where the district has implemented Pre-K programs on its own aimed at closing the achievement gap by reaching children earlier. The funding will support the creation of additional Pre-K classrooms in George H. Oliver and Heidelberg Elementary Schools, and officials anticipate that the grant will also serve as a catalyst to help the district procure further funding from the state.

“The Mississippi Legislature recently passed a mechanism for funding Pre-K in public schools,” said Clarksdale Superintendent Dennis Dupree, Sr. “During the session, lawmakers allotted $3 million in funding to be awarded competitively for programs across the state, and this grant from the Delta Bridge Project should make CMSD even more competitive in that process. We are extremely grateful for their proactive work to improve educational opportunities for Clarksdale’s kids.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand our existing services to more four-year-old children in the district,” said Toya Matthews, CMSD Director of Elementary Education. “Our goal is to give as many children as possible a chance to receive an early childhood education and foster the academic development needed to become productive citizens.”

Coahoma County’s Delta Bridge Project is a public-private partnership between local organizations and hundreds of area individuals that is intended to coordinate community and economic development efforts in the county. One of the objectives that the project works toward is increasing educational opportunities for residents – a goal which the Pre-K grant supports.

“The Delta Bridge Project’s overall goal is to improve the quality of life for residents of Coahoma County,” said Lois Erwin, Sr. Community Development Officer at Southern Bancorp Community Partners which supports the Delta Bridge Project. “And one of the ways that is achieved is by supporting proven education initiatives such as quality Pre-K, because a good education needs a strong base from which to start.”

Expansion of the Pre-K program is slated to begin in August, while Teach for America teachers have already been hired for each of the classes. The school district plans to apply for the additional state funding in October.

The Delta Bridge Project is a community-led revitalization effort focused on improving the quality of life for Coahoma County residents through education, health, housing, leadership and economic development. For more information visit


For More Information:

Contact: Lois Erwin (Delta Bridge Project) 662-624-5776 or
Dennis Dupree, Sr. (CMSD) 662-627-8500


Education Goal Team Meeting – 4:30pm

Date & Time: Tuesday, March 27, 2012; 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Location: Great Rivers Co-op

Description: The quarterly meeting of the Education Goal Team led by co-chairs Suzann McCommon and Debby King.

Community Development Updates – 2011 in Review

Here’s a rundown of some of the key projects that were completed, funded or initiated in 2011:

1. Fort Curtis
Phase One construction was completed on this ¾ replica Union Fort (see story below).

2. Chamber of Commerce BR&E
The Phillips County Chamber of Commerce received $95,000 to fund its Business Retention and Expansion program.

3. Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Innovative program was launched by the Delta AHEC providing curriculum and training to enable all four public school districts to offer teen pregnancy prevention education to 7th, 8th and 9th graders.

4. King Biscuit Blues Festival
Festival leadership developed plans to expand the year-round impact of the festival, with three Live on the Levee concerts starting in the spring and a robust Blues in Schools program.

5. Mini-Grant program
A Delta Bridge Project Mini-Grant program was funded to encourage volunteerism and include more community partners.  A formal announcement about the launch of this exciting effort will be coming out this summer.

6. Helena Entrepreneur Center
Program completed successful first year (see story below).

7. Helena Wayfinding and Gateway Signage Plan
A nationally-recognized signage company developed plans for coordinated wayfinding and gateway signage to improve the visitor experience.

8. Trails and Greenways Plan
Work began on a $36,700 grant to develop a Trails and Greenways Plan for the City of Helena.

9. Downtown Helena Farmer’s Market
Market received $39,215 USDA FMPP Grant for expansion.

10. HUD Rural Innovation Grant
This $2 million grant will fund business and downtown development incentives for the county.

11. Chamber Leadership Grant
Grant under review to support the new Chamber leadership academy and Phillips County Volunteer Corps efforts.

12. Freedom Park – Civil War Helena
A $385,000 grant is under review to fund the creation of the first National Park Service Underground Railroad “Network to Freedom” site in the state of Arkansas.

13. Biscoe Corridor Improvements
The state began construction on the new $3 million Welcome Center at the foot of the Helena Bridge.  Additionally, a private developer finalized a $5.6 million plan to renovate the Old Helena High School into 40 two-bedroom apartments for seniors.