It’s been a longtime in the making, but Montgomery’s Valiant Cross Academy has taken the keys to its very first school bus.
The school has grown by leaps and bounds over the past six years thanks to community support, but it’s been limited in where it could take its students because of a lack of transportation.
That all changed this week when the brand new vehicle, gleaming in the hot Alabama sun, pulled into the school’s parking lot downtown for the first time. And with the school’s name emblazoned along the side, there’s no mistaking who it belongs to.
“It was pretty amazing, as you could imagine,” explained an excited Kimberly Baker, the school’s marketing and development director. “We knew we needed a bus years ago.”
The process wasn’t as simple as walking into a dealership, picking out a color, and deciding a payment plan. As a non-profit, the school’s resources are closely watched.
“This was as long process. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of support,” the director said.
So the school applied for a grant from The Daniel Foundation and was eventually awarded a majority portion of the funds needed to buy the transporter. The rest would have to be matched by the school.
“We are 100 percent community driven,” Baker shared, adding it took about a year of fundraising but “the money came in!”
News that the campaign goal had been reached came just as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, something Baker admitted “kind of took the air out of my tires a little bit.” But the decision to buy the bus moved forward.
Baker said the school’s founders believe the young men being taught at Valiant Cross “need to see the world that’s evolving around them.” But, she added “it’s hard to do that without transportation.”
Now, with a set of wheels under them, the school is waiting for the pandemic’s all-clear before it sets off on trips around the South.
“This much-needed transportation will take our young men all over the South to view colleges, universities, museums and landmarks,” the school said. “We cannot begin to properly thank everyone who helped us reach this incredible milestone. We are so thankful to the Daniel Foundation and everyone who continues to help these scholars achieve!”