Alabama State Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey, the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education, representatives from Alabama Power and other area leaders and nonprofit organizations on Wednesday celebrated the official opening of a community resource center believed to be the first of its kind in Alabama.
The New Heights Community Resource Center is an innovative partnership between Tuscaloosa City Schools and regional nonprofits to ensure the needs of city students, their families and the broader community are met.
“Teaching the whole child is a goal of Tuscaloosa City Schools, and to ensure every child is successful, we must help remove barriers for some students and their families,” said TCS Superintendent Mike Daria. “The New Heights Community Resource Center has long been a dream. We are proud that this has come to fruition and will have a real impact on our students and their families through the vital work our community partners do every day.”
Plans for the center have been proposed in 2021 to bring community services together and work together to make them more accessible while utilizing unused space in a building owned by the city’s schools. Once Stillman Heights Elementary, portions of the New Heights building were renovated in 2022 to allow former classrooms to be used as offices. The location also houses the STARS Academy, an alternative program. The local agencies are designed to better serve the STARS students but also all TCS students and their families as the center is a hub for the non-profit organizations.
Partners attend a dedication ceremony for Tuscaloosa’s New Heights Community Resource Center. (Contribution)
Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria speaks at the opening of the New Heights Community Resource Center in Tuscaloosa. (Contribution)
Attendees celebrate the grand opening of the New Heights Community Resource Center in Tuscaloosa. (Contribution)
Alabama Power Western Division vice president Mark Crews speaks at the opening of the New Heights Community Resource Center in Tuscaloosa. (Contribution)
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox speaks at the grand opening of Tuscaloosa’s New Heights Community Resource Center. (Contribution)
Alabama Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey speaks at the opening of the New Heights Community Resource Center in Tuscaloosa. (Contribution)
The services provided by New Heights have five focus areas: Education, Homeless and Homeless Prevention Services, Youth Services, Mental Health and Healthcare. Ten agencies are the first community partners to move into New Heights: Habitat for Humanity of West Alabama, The Literacy Council of West Alabama, Disability Rights and Resources, Five Horizons Health, PRIDE of Tuscaloosa, The Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama, Parents as Teachers, Tuscaloosa Reads, and La Fuerza Multicultural.
In addition to the area agencies, New Heights will house The Lift, a store with new, donated items including clothing, toiletries, groceries and school supplies where TCS students can “shop” if a need is identified by their school social worker.
“We’re very excited to currently have 10 community partners on board, and we hope to grow that even further,” said Tesney Davis, mental health coordinator for Tuscaloosa City Schools. “I am very proud of TCS and the team we have that has done this work – people who have worked very hard for this vision that has been cultivated for several years now and for it to finally become a reality has been really a Dream. ”
The Alabama Power Foundation sponsored the ribbon cutting and grand opening of New Heights. Mark Crews, vice president of Alabama Power’s Western Division, said that as a corporate citizen, the company recognizes the important role the center will play in improving the lives of students and their families.
“We understand that educational success goes beyond the classroom. Our students need to get healthy at home and in their personal lives in order to achieve academic success,” he said. “We believe New Heights will fill this need, and we are committed to working closely with the Tuscaloosa City School System and nonprofit partners to ensure this resource center is effective in providing services to the community.”