HOPE – The Hope Public School District has received a grant to fund local understanding concerning the importance of an accurate U.S. Census count in Arkansas and Hempstead County as it relates to federal funding for public schools.
The single-year grant of $8,600 is provided through funding from non-profit organizations, foundations and businesses including Tyson Foods, Walmart Foundation and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
The grant program will involve encouraging parents to become active in the Census effort, providing avenues for district employees to respond to the Census, providing technology for easy access to Census information at schools and school-related events, and the appointment of student ambassadors to assist in activities at school-related events which support Census awareness.
HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said ensuring an accurate Census count in Hope and Hempstead County is critical to public education.
“Information gathered in next year’s survey will determine the funding our state receives over the next decade for education, health care and infrastructure,” Dr. Hart said. “As superintendent of the Hope School District, I have seen firsthand how the Census affects federal funding for school districts across Arkansas, especially in rural communities like ours.”
The demographics of the HPS qualify 85 percent of the students in the district for free and reduced-price meals at school, he said.
“A few years ago, we signed up for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Program to provide all students, regardless of their family income levels, free breakfast and lunch,” Hart said. “Armed with Census data, we were able to receive $1.2 million last year alone.”
Federal funding up to $1.3 million also provides for Title I federal support in kindergarten classes and for education specialists in math and reading, and for the purchase of classroom technology, he said. As well, the HPS also benefits from the general federal funding for programs such as Head Start and Arkansas Better Chance based upon Census data.
“As we look ahead to next year’s Census, we hope all residents will visit arkansasimpact.org/arkansas-counts and follow @ARcensus2020 on Facebook and @ar_census on Twitter to find out how they can do their parts to get out the count,” Hart said.