June 3, 2017
When Kimberly Baker first entered Valiant Cross as an applicant for a grant through A Community Thrives she didn't think they had a great chance of winning.
"There were so many large cities that submitted grants. I just felt like the numbers would be against us," she said.
In essence, the numbers were against them.
More than 1,000 applications were submitted to the education category of the A Community Thrives (ACT) program, a nationwide USA TODAY initiative providing resources for philanthropic missions. After entering, applicants had to win the grant by way of vote.
Entrants with the highest votes were then reviewed by a panel of judges selected by Gannett, which chose the final winners.
But once the word got out that Valiant Cross had applied, the community began to rally around them.
"When we started doing our PR and marketing campaign, I started noticing all the shares [on Facebook]," Baker said.
Valiant Cross rose to the forefront, ranking among the top three in the nation and earning its $50,000 grant.
"The A Community Thrives initiative shared stories of so many impressive individuals and organizations from communities across the nation, including Montgomery," said Michael Galvin, president of the Montgomery Advertiser. "I’m thrilled that the work of Valiant Cross was chosen as one of three out of over 1,000 applicants in the education category to receive these funds. From the voting, it’s clear the community supports their remarkable, life-changing work."
The grant is geared toward empowering community members to take on local challenges and share these ideas on a national platform.
Seven other local groups entered for a chance to win an ACT grant: Roofs and Roots, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, BuckyP Fund, YMCA Brown Bag, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Visions of Grace and a group trying to raise funds for a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.
"It just means a lot [that Valiant Cross won] because I'm from Montgomery, and it feels good to know that the Montgomery community believes in what we're doing, and that they really love and care about the young men at Valiant Cross Academy," said Anthony Brock, who founded the school with his brother, Fredrick.
Valiant Cross is a faith-based, all male school in downtown Montgomery dedicated to reaching at-risk youths.
It opened its doors in August 2015 with only sixth-graders after two Montgomery brothers invited 30 boys out of west Montgomery and gave them an opportunity to succeed.
In the 2016 school year, it extended to seventh-graders, who would stay at the school for their eighth-grade year.
The school is now in the process of developing its high school for the 2018-2019 school year. Baker said the funds awarded from the grant would go toward developing it.
"Wherever our home is going to be for our high school, that's where these funds will be used," Baker said.
This article was originally published by the Montgomery Advertiser:
Davis, Kelsey. "Valiant Cross wins $50K grant" Montgomery Advertiser Web. 19 Dec. 2017.