NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The James M. Cox Foundation announced a $250,000 grant to the Bayou District Foundation (BDF). The grant will support the Bayou District Foundation's Educare Center that annually provides early childhood education to 150 low-income children from six weeks to five years. Educare is part of a national network of 20 early learning facilities in 11 states that utilizes research-based best practices to ensure the school-readiness of underserved children.
The Educare Center is a component of Columbia Parc, a redevelopment initiative of the former St. Bernard housing project that is being led by BDF. The redevelopment will provide quality, affordable workforce housing and new "cradle to college" educational resources, including the Educare Center, a K-8 charter school and a public high school. Additionally, a new YMCA facility and the restoration of City Park's golf facilities will deliver recreational amenities and sustained funding to support BDF's educational programs.
BDF's Columbia Parc is inspired and informed by the highly-successful and proven model of Atlanta's East Lake development that is now being replicated across the country. Early childhood education is a core focus for the James M. Cox Foundation, which helped establish East Lake's Cox Pre-K Program.
The James M. Cox Foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises' founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group operate.
"There is compelling evidence of the enormous literacy crisis for children of poverty, which continues to be a major problem in New Orleans ten years after Hurricane Katrina," said Jacqui Vines, senior vice president and region manager for Cox Communications Southeast Region. "Bayou District Foundation is addressing the need for quality early childhood education. Cox is proud to support this important initiative and help prepare students for success."
According to national research, children born into low-income families arrive in kindergarten having heard 30 million fewer words within the first four years of life than their peers from more financially-stable homes. This lack of early exposure to language puts these children at a disadvantage, impacting development of vocabulary and reading skills once in school. The Educare Center will help narrow the word gap and put these students on a path toward success.
"We are gracious for the generous support of the James M. Cox Foundation," stated Gerard W. Barousse, Jr., chairman of the board for the Bayou District Foundation. "Through this grant, the Bayou District Foundation has been able to complete the capital funding of the 27,000 sq. ft., $8.9 million Educare facility. This initial step in our 'cradle to college' education continuum will support our collective efforts to grow our own educated workforce."
Cox Communications also supports digital literacy in New Orleans through its participation in the Connect2Compete program. The broadband adoption program offers discounted high-speed internet service to low-income families with children who qualify for the National School Lunch Program. In 2014, Cox pledged $15 million in support of broadband adoption initiatives.
Cox Enterprises operates Cox Communications and Manheim in Louisiana.
About The James M. Cox Foundation
The James M. Cox Foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises' founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where the company operates. James M. Cox was Ohio's first three-term governor and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president of the United States. The Foundation concentrates its community support in several areas, including: conservation and environment; early childhood education; empowering families and individuals for success; and health.
About Bayou District Foundation
The Bayou District Foundation was formed in 2006 in order to effect change in the interest of breaking the cycle of poverty in Gentilly and the former St. Bernard public housing community. With strong personal ties in New Orleans, co-founders Gerard W. Barousse, Jr., Mike Rodrigue and Gary N. Solomon, Sr. saw an opportunity to "level the playing field" for a significant number of underserved families in their hometown. The Bayou District Foundation ("BDF") in partnership with HANO, Kingsley House, Columbia Residential, Purpose Built Communities, Educare, St. Thomas Community Health Center, the Tulane University Center for Public Service, City Park and the PGA TOUR is the driving force – the "community quarterback" – behind the thriving mixed income community of 685 households in Gentilly – Columbia Parc.
Columbia Parc was built on the site of the former, blighted, St. Bernard public housing development, once one of the most distressed and crime ridden communities in the country. Just eight years after inception, the BDF holistic community development model has proven successful with residential units full and with community impact evident. Of the 685 households in the Columbia Parc mixed-income community, 493 households receive public housing or reduced rental rates, with all heads of household either employed, in vocational training or enrolled full time in an accredited college or university except seniors and the disabled. Impact is already evident with crime reduced by nearly 100%.
SOURCE The James M. Cox Foundation