WKU’s Family Resource Program and the Housing Authority of Bowling Green have received a $200,000 grant to begin a new program called Project EMPOWER, the school announced Nov. 29.
The money was received from the Jesse Ball duPont Fund, which seeks to help communities that lack the essentials for “healthy, productive living,” according to its website.
“We got [the grant] because it’s something that’s a really unique idea,” said Jesse Dubose, WKU’s Director of Development for Corporate and Foundation/Constituent Relations. “They are interested in funding projects that could be models for other universities and cities. This is what we hope Project EMPOWER will become.”
The program will provide counseling sessions that focus on self-sufficiency for families in low-income parts of Bowling Green. The need for this was discovered by a program created by a previous grant, which was also funded by the Jesse Ball duPont Fund, Dubose said.
“The ICAN2 grant was very similar to the Project EMPOWER grant, especially in the way it involved Western students,” Dubose said.
The ICAN2 grant provided an after-school program for students in elementary and middle school. WKU students had hands-on experience tutoring the children, Dubose said. While the program was successful in improving the children’s grades, it was discovered that many of them lacked the psycho-social skills needed for self-sufficiency as an adult.
“We are trying to take what we learned from the last grant and offer programs that will help people in the community,” said Abraham Williams, executive director of the Housing Authority of Bowling Green.
Project EMPOWER will give WKU students and faculty the opportunity to work with mental health professionals to help the children with their psycho-social skills, Williams said. It will teach the children to “Enhance, Motivate, Prosper, Overcome, Work, Encourage, and Respect themselves and others,” according to a WKU news release.
The project will provide counseling sessions during the three years the grant is available. However, Williams said many people would like to see the program last longer. The counseling sessions will focus on topics such as money management, stress management, relationship skills, and depression and anxiety.
The Jesse Ball duPont Fund gives grants to more than 300 eligible universities and organizations and has awarded over $303 million since 1977.