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


George Oliver Elementary Student Wins KaBoom! Playground Design Contest

To rally support for the proposed KaBOOM! playground at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, a group of summer school children had the opportunity to get creative and design a the playground. The winner of the best design would get $100, and his or her design would be used in future print materials advertising the KaBOOM! project. The design contest was offered through Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc. and the Delta Bridge Project.

A large, three-dimensional clay model was the winner, designed by Cedric White Jr. from George Oliver Elementary. The model is nestled in a wide, shallow plastic tray. Various colors of clay are spread across the bottom of the tray, forming a rolling, neon ground, and bright plastic geometric shapes, cars and plastic fish lay on top of that. The model appears greatly inspired by Dr. Seuss.

Lois Erwin, Senior Community Development Officer of the Delta Bridge Project, said the model will be worked into print materials advertising the proposed playground.

Including White, 27 children participated in the art project. Those children will be invited back in September to work with the KaBOOM! design team when they create the actual playground at MLK Park.

3 to 1 Match Provided for KaBoom! Playground Fundraising

Senior Community Development Officer of the Delta Bridge Project, Lois Erwin, said she’s hopeful a Southern Bancorp offer to match donations will boost community support for a KaBOOM! playground project that must find funding by this fall.

If funded, the KaBoom! project would build a state of the art playground in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Sunflower Avenue. The playground, which will be designed by Landscape Structures, will feature an Evos design, a patented design targeted at kids ages 5-12. Evos designs are renowned for their bright colors and odd shapes and configurations.

Since the end of June, Southern Bancorp has pledged $3 for every $1 donated to the project. Erwin said public donations have come close to $3,000, including $707 that she raised a week ago at the
public announcement of the bridge project’s strategic plan. Erwin said that the money donated to the playground project will go toward that project alone and not toward a proposed stage that will be built in the same park.

KaBOOM! is a nonprofit group that was founded in 1996. The group helps build playgrounds in areas that are, they say, play deserts. According to the group’s website, a lack of access to safe, fun play environments leads to “physical, intellectual, social, and emotional harm to our children.” The group’s ultimate goal is to create play spaces within walking distance of every child in the country.

Donations can be made at the CRI offices, located in the old Greyhound Bus Station at 300 Issaquena Ave in Clarksdale.