The DuBois Institute (A community development corporation) was established and incorporated in 2006. We were granted our 501 (c) (3) designation as a public charity in June of 2007. At the core our community outreach efforts has been the recognition that poverty is the underpinning of disparities in society and in most cases acts as a multiplier in numerous key prevalence rates (access to health-care, food, housing, education and chronic diseases) among those folks living in low socio-economic neighbors. From the start were guided by the principal that entrepreneurship is a success and employment strategy to mitigate poverty. In the early years we conducted small business symposiums directed to the community of color. We were successful in bringing such notables as Steadman Graham, Les Brown and George Frazer to the Wiregrass Area to lead topics on starting and sustaining small businesses.
Over time we expanded our focus to impact disparities by taking a stronger advocacy leadership roles. Our early grant success was in the area of tobacco prevention. We were the recipients of numerous repeat grants from:
With the financial support of these foundations we were successful in building a coalition of faith leaders called the Alabama Faith United Against Tobacco. This coalition was able to develop a relationship with a Alabama State Senator to sponsor clean-air legislation which was the forerunner of some of the successful local and state campaigns today.
In 2008, we expanded our advocacy outreach to childhood obesity. With the support of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we formed a coalition of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (ASAHPERD). This coalition was successful in developing a legislative sponsor for a bill which would make physical education for K to 8th grade students in public schools in Alabama a law (no exemptions and no substitutions). This act would ensure that our schools would have stronger impact on the issue of obesity and expand the number of children taking physical education. The act passed the House and the Senate in 2008 and 2009 but was veto by the governor each time. By the end of 2009 the coalition disbanded but the achievement stands alone in legislative history as no other coalition has gotten this far to date in Alabama on this particular issue regarding the public health.
With a strong commitment to impact childhood obesity and local food policy we launched Aunt Katie’s Community Garden and Urban Farm (AKCG) in 2010. This effort represents the first community garden in Dothan, Alabama. One unique fact about our urban agriculture project is that we have a farm number with USDA-FSA. This healthy food access project brings a triple bottom line benefit to the low income community we serve: a revitalized neighborhood economy, job creation and better health. We plan to use urban farming as a community development strategy. Our project aims to:
AKCG is a ½ acre site used for both high-density food production and as a community garden for local gardeners. The project leverages community involvement to “Teach, Entertain and Inspire” children and their families to learn about “real food” and discover that food production can be beautiful, healthy, enhance the quality of life, and is a great place to volunteer. We have created a marketplace for fresh, affordable food that we call a “FoodLife Center”. This project will also be used as a platform to launch more school based gardens and encourages broader integration of food education into the academic curriculum of our local school system. In addition our formula for garden-based learning and nutrition education has expanded to a partnership with Auburn University’s Nutrition Education Program and includes SNAP-Education outreach.
Our marketplace approach will expand to New Farmer Outreach and Education with a focus on impacting the local specialty crop industry as a whole by promoting backyard and urban farming.
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