New Hanover County is making several investments in the community to provide equitable resources for residents, increase stability for families, and give children and adults strong foundations to thrive. In addition to Port City United, other community initiatives are underway or upcoming, and those are outlined in the tabs below. This is a multi-year plan that will continue to evolve as the community needs change. The overarching goal is to connect individuals and families with the resources they need, build trusted relationships throughout the community, and show true care to every person.
Design and build a grocery story on the Northside of downtown Wilmington, which is designated as a food desert, that will provide neighbors with a nearby and convenient location to access fresh food and create job opportunities. Access to food is a necessary for a person’s health and overall wellbeing, so partnering with the Northside Food Co-op to operate the grocery store once it is built will help ensure food security and bring a valuable and needed resource to the community. Learn more here.
Four new school resource officers (SRO) in downtown elementary schools that do not already have a dedicated SRO, including Snipes Academy of Arts and Design, Forest Hills Global Elementary, Rachel Freeman School of Engineering, and International School at Gregory.
Threat assessment training for all school resource and parks resource officers for increased awareness and response to a variety of school violence threats.
Additional capacity for the Sheriff’s Office evidence-based Elements program to alleviate the current waitlist for children in need of the service and allow for additional children to be served.
Expansion of Community Justice Services’ evidence-based Too Good For Violence program into high schools to help address social and emotional needs of students.
Expanding the county-funded Pre-K program with six additional Pre-K classes within New Hanover County Schools, starting in the 2022-2023 school year. This will provide 90 more children each year with the opportunity to begin their educational journeys sooner, setting them up for life-long success academically, socially, and emotionally. This funding is in addition to the six Pre-K classes already funded by the county, for a total of 12 classes.
In addition to the county’s ongoing non-county agency funding commitment as part of the yearly budget, an additional $1.2 million is being allocated to nonprofits who have evidence-based programs to help combat violence and provide wrap-around services to individuals and families. The funding is intended for capacity building so the nonprofits can increase their services in the community and will begin this Fiscal Year (2022-2023). Additional information will be shared about the nonprofit criteria and expected outcomes when the application process is finalized.
In this Fiscal Year (2022-2023), the county is funding an additional 14 School Resource Officers to ensure all schools have the presence of SROs, who will prioritize developing trusted relationships with students. In addition, the county will invest in opportunities to increase the presence of adults on school buses, to develop additional relationships and have another continuous, trusted presence to and from school.
Fund the design of a new boarding school operated by Leading Into New Communities (LINC) to provide stability, education opportunities (high school diploma or GED), and trade preparation and training for youth and young adults, ages 16 to 21, who have previous criminal justice involvement, gang involvement, are on supervision, and/or those who have committed crimes. The county, it its overall plan, will also help support LINC with some of the boarding school’s capital and operating expenses over the coming years.
For older students and adults, starting in the fall of 2023, the county will work Cape Fear Community College to help eliminate barriers that might have previously kept someone from attending. This includes covering the cost of attendance or making sure needs like transportation and childcare are met so that individuals can further their education or work to hone skills in a specific trade. Additional information on how to qualify will be shared once the support program is finalized.
In an effort to expand the ongoing conversation about violence in our community and safety within our schools, New Hanover County hosted a pair of digital “Let’s Talk” public forums in November 2021.
These online community forums provided additional engagement opportunities, as well as student conversations and focus groups that – all together – helped identify broader societal issues related to community violence and safety, and informed the county’s path forward.
These webinar-style Zoom events featured an array of panelists, including local service providers, families, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement officials, and more. Community participants joined the virtual meeting to listen to the conversation and submit questions for panelists to answer live.
Let’s Talk: Community Violence Forum
The first virtual public forum, “Let’s Talk: Community Violence,” was held on Monday, November 15. The panel featured local law enforcement, community groups and parents as they discussed issues taking place around New Hanover County that are leading to and are a direct result of violence within the community. Attendees then asked questions of the panelists and shared feedback. Click below to watch the first virtual forum.
Let’s Talk: School Safety Forum
The second virtual public forum, “Let’s Talk: School Safety,” was held on Wednesday, November 17. The panel featured representatives from New Hanover County Schools’ Central Services, school administration, and parents. The discussion centered around how issues that start in a community impact the school environment, and how to help ensure safety on school campuses. Attendees then asked questions of the panelists and shared feedback. Click below to watch the second virtual forum.
Port City United 320 Chestnut Street, Suite 627 • Wilmington, NC 28401