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Service celebrated by university leaders

Dr. Alfred Rankin, Dr. Glenda Glover, Dr. Vanessa Rogers Long, Mr. William LaForge, and Dr. Valmage Towner

Mississippi State Senator Willie Simmons (left) and LINKS Mississippi Delta Chapter President Dr. Vanessa Rogers Long (right) 

More than 240 people were in attendance at the “First Anniversary Luncheon” of the Mississippi Delta Chapter of the LINKS, Inc. held in the H.L. Nowell Union State Room at Delta State this past Saturday. LINKS, Inc. is a national volunteer organization with roughly 12,000 professional African American women as members.

In attendance at the luncheon were university presidents William N. LaForge of Delta State University, Dr. Glenda Glover of Tennessee State University (guest speaker), Dr. Valmage Towner of Coahoma Community College and Dr. Alfred Rankin of Mississippi Valley State University. The presidents were asked to attend the event as higher education partners to represent their regions in assurance that their respective schools would be a viable part in helping LINKS deliver services to the Delta.

Vice Chair of the Services to Youth Facet and Executive Director of the Delta Area Association for the Improvement of Schools (DAAIS) Joyce McNair commented, “We are proud of the services that LINKS, Inc. are providing for this area and we look forward to a continued partnership with the organization. Also, I would like to give a big thank you to Delta State University for opening their doors. Everyone left feeling this was a great place to be because of the warmness and hospitality.”

The Mississippi Delta Chapter was charted in 2012 as a vision of Clarksdale, Miss. native Dr. Vanessa Rogers Long, the current president of the chapter, to provide services and enrichment to the Delta region including Bolivar, Sunflower, Washington, Humphreys and Coahoma counties.
 
The chapter has since started a mentoring program which focuses on middle school girls, emphasizes closing the achievement gap, provides exposure to cultural events such as classical arts, provides tutoring and focuses on health issues among African American children such as obesity.

The mentoring program is currently focused in Clarksdale with plans to expand to other areas. The chapter is also partnering with DAAIS to provide training for faculty and staff on how to be mentors as well as strategies to enhance teaching and learning in English, language arts and mathematics.

The chapter was recently approved for the 21st Century grant in the amount of $904,977 spread over the next five years, with $238,152 being awarded the first year. The grant will be used for the STEM initiative which promotes the interest of middle school girls in science, technology, engineering, and math, sponsors before and after school tutorial programs to help close the achievement gap and exposes students to the arts. The initiative will also promote physical, emotional and social well-being of children and their families.

LINKS, Inc. is an organization that focuses on transforming the lives of children, families and communities through five facets — Services to Youth, the Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services.

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