HARLEM CHILDREN’S ZONE FOUNDER GEOFFREY CANADA VISITS INDIANOLA PROMISE COMMUNITY
STONEVILLE, MS – Renowned children’s education reform advocate, Geoffrey Canada, visited the Indianola Promise Community Monday, September 30, to get a first-hand look at how his pioneering Harlem Children’s Zone has been successfully replicated in Mississippi.
As part of his three-hour visit, Canada first met with the educational leadership team from Delta Health Alliance and Lockard Elementary School. While there, he toured the school, dropped in on some of the literacy-based programs in action, and talked with principal Daphne Heflin. Before the interventions of the Indianola Promise Community, there were 99 schools in Mississippi with higher test scores than Lockard Elementary. After three years of the IPC programs, there were only eight schools in Mississippi with a higher score.
Following the tour, Canada met with Indianola community stakeholders including Sunflower County Supervisor Glenn Donald; Mayor Steve Rosenthal; Indianola Public School District Superintendent Miska Davis; Delta Council Executive Director Frank Howell; and others from the IPC Steering Committee.
Dr. Cass Pennington, Delta Health Alliance Board member welcomed Canada, saying, “Mr. Canada, because of your vision to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem, and because of your willingness to share your pioneering work in education reform with our team, we are now seeing positive changes for our students here in Indianola. We hope you are as enthusiastic as we are about the progress that has been made here. You provided the foundation and initial direction to our community to make this happen. For that, we wholeheartedly thank you.”
As each local stakeholder shared the impact that the Promise Community has had on Indianola, Canada expressed his appreciation that they were working together as a community to improve the opportunities for Indianola’s children. “Whenever I travel around the country and talk to other promise communities, Indianola always comes up in conversation as one of the top five in the country,” said Canada. “I can see when people are really committed, and this group is committed. You have the data to back up what you’re doing, and you’re making a difference. I couldn’t wait to get here today to see it for myself.”
Superintendent Davis added that, for the first time in recent history, the district had earned the state rating of Successful. “We are really excited that 67% of our schools have been deemed successful or better. We are so thankful for our partnership with Delta Health Alliance. Aligning our visions and incorporating their programs has been transformative for our school district.”
Following the community stakeholder visit, Canada observed other Indianola Promise Community programs focusing on Early Childhood Education, home visiting and mentoring. Canada spent time with students involved in the Indianola Youth Council and College Prep Program. He also saw an update in recent outcomes.
“Everything we do is measured and studied,” said Dr. Karen Matthews, CEO of Delta Health Alliance. “Data is a very important part of IPC. We can show significant improvements in K-readiness and reading proficiency. We can also demonstrate that the biggest gains in reducing childhood poverty are occurring in counties served by our Promise Communities. While our strategy is to improve the educational outcomes for our children, the IPC initiatives are also having a positive impact on the community outside the schools.”
Delta Health Alliance has overseen over $225 million in research and service grants from the U.S. Departments of Education, Agriculture and Justice, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Health Research and Services Administration (HRSA), the Office of the National Coordinator, and numerous foundations and state contract awards. Our programs have successfully accomplished milestones such as development and maintenance of an interconnected and regional electronic health record system, clinic-based programs, care transitions programs to coordinate inpatient and outpatient care, delivery of literacy programs, maternal and infant wellness programs, pregnancy prevention programs, early childhood programs, and health and wellness services. Delta Health Alliance has also successfully completed a recipient capability audit from the Department of Health and Human Services with no significant findings and has a policies and procedures manual that is used as the “gold standard” for rural non-profits, according to our Program Officer at the Office of Rural Health. To learn more about Delta Health Alliance, go to www.deltahealthalliance.org or follow DHA on social media.
Caption for Photo: Indianola Community stakeholders gathered to discuss the success of the Indianola Promise Community. Shown from left to right are: Roshunda Sample, Delta Health Alliance Director, Frank Howell, Delta Council; Dr. Cass Pennington, CHA Board of Directors; Jimmy Clay, IPC Steering Committee; Brooks Ann Gaston, Associate VP, Delta Health Alliance; David Allen, IPC Steering Committee; Carolyn Willis, VP, Delta Health Alliance; Woods Eastland, DHA Board of Directors; Glenn Donald, County Supervisor; Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone; Mayor Steve Rosenthal; Maggie Barnes, IPC Steering Committee; Dillon Jones, School District; Barleane Coller, IPC Steering Committee; Miska Davis, Indianola Superintendent; and Dr. Karen Matthews, CEO, Delta Health Alliance.