Arkansas Center Transforms Lives

The Scott County Learning Center (SCLC) in Waldron, Arkansas, is a Neighborhood Networks Center that is changing people's lives - for the better.

Like many Neighborhood Network Centers, SCLC offers classes and provides computer access to low-income housing residents in order to promote self-sufficiency. In 2002, 16 former residents at Scott County Apartments graduated from these classes and found jobs, enabling them to either move to unsubsidized properties or purchase a home.

As SCLC helps people move toward independence, it also is moving toward organizational independence. Neighborhood Networks Centers receive HUD grants to get started, but then need to find alternative funding to continue serving their clients. In many parts of the country, the centers find corporate sponsors to replace HUD funding. But Miles Graham, Executive Director of SCLC, recognized early on that his small, rural community didn't have large businesses that could afford to sponsor his center. So he designed and is implementing a plan that will allow SCLC to become self-sufficient by earning the necessary funds.

In January 2003, the Center launched a tax assistance program for low-income families throughout Scott County. SCLC e-files tax forms for a $25 fee, which is a substantial savings over the price that other institutions in the area charge. The center provides tax information in both English and Spanish and generates the tax return forms, e-files all of the paperwork and has the refund transmitted to the center. SCLC deducts the filing fee and notifies the resident to pick up his or her refund.

In 2002, SCLC began processing criminal background checks for HUD-insured properties around the state after completing training to become an authorized representative for Factual Data Corporation. This private-public venture not only generates funds for SCLC, but also has improved the service. Previously, the company's searches were limited to the county in which the HUD-insured property was located, but SCLC now provides a statewide search.

SCLC was recognized at the 2002 National Conference of Neighborhood Networks held in Miami for helping improve the lives of residents of the Scott County Apartments and of the entire Waldron community. For more information on the center, visit the SCLC website (http://www.sclconline.org/).

 
Content Archived: July 14, 2011