Incorporated in 1994, Nollie Jenkins Family Center’s (NJFC) initial design intentionally sought to create an inclusive setting that would provide safe, affordable and quality childcare for children from birth until five, and afterschool and summer programming for middle and high school students. The Center operated solely as a childcare facility in the city of Lexington for three years.
In the fall of 1997, NJFC relocated to Treadwell Grove, a rural community outside the city of Lexington. At this time, the Center’s mission shifted to providing a broader range of services for youth. The following spring the Center, recognizing the power of individual transformation and collective movement-building, expanded it's community organizing and child advocacy.
Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc., received its 501c(3) status on July 31, 2007. It remains a grassroots leadership development, education, and training organization, and is now located in Durant (Holmes County), MS.
More so now than ever, NJFC is actively engaged in the life and death struggle for the moral center of our nation and local communities. Poverty remains an intended consequence of conscious policies, education is still a gatekeeper, and racism is woven into the entire fabric of our culture and compounds every problem. Low-wealth rural communities of color are struggling to become architects rather than objects of policy in order to cast off these contrived burdens and open the gates to all children regardless of race, class, national origin, language, status, culture or sexual orientation. To achieve these goals it is not enough to be righteous; we must be organized with the capacity to impact the formation and implementation of policy in the public and private sectors.
In the Delta and central regions of Mississippi where Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc. toils, the politics of race and class sustains a bitter divide that frames most political, economic and social issues. In the past 3 years we have witnessed knock-down, drag-out state legislative wars over racially-motivated redistricting policies, anti-immigrant policies, massive cuts in public education funding, the advent of charter schools, and efforts to divert public funds to privatize public education. These struggles continue!
Rural Roots, February 2004
"50 Years After Brown, Parents and Students Fight for Equality in Mississippi’s Delta Schools"
By Elisabeth Higgins Null, Rural School and Community Trust
Ellen Reddy has over 20 years of experience in community-based organization fiscal & administrative management and community organizing.
As NJFC's Executive Director, Ms. Reddy is responsible for carrying out day-to-day activities including financial, administrative, and programmatic work of a community-based organization that develops grassroots leaders, community organizers, while actively supporting parents, and students, and other members of the African American community in Holmes County.
In 2003, along with the ACLU of Mississippi, Mississippi Center for Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other social justice organizations, Ms. Reddy co-founded the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of a Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, a statewide coalition of youth, students, educators, community, legal and public policy groups dedicated to using cost-effective and humane methods to close Mississippi’s schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline and reform its wasteful, ineffective juvenile justice system.
In 2005-2007, she continued her staunch advocacy for youth when she co-founded and provided leadership to the Mississippi Youth Justice Project (MYJP), a project of Southern Poverty Law Center, and advocated for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. DOJ eventually filed a class action against the state of Mississippi stemming from violations against youth placed in Mississippi’s two training schools. As a result of this statewide policy and legal work, MYJP was able to achieve unprecedented victories - one of Mississippi’s training schools was closed; advocacy for an Adolescent Offender Program (AOP) in all eighty-two counties in Mississippi; and young people cannot be placed in detention and/or training schools as a result of a status offense. Ms. Reddy remains a staunch advocate for children, youth, and families living in low-wealth rural communities across Mississippi.
From: The Praxis Project
This Communities Building for Health video features Nollie Jenkins Family Center, a grassroots organization based in Durant, MS that is working towards improving the lives of young women and girls as well as the health and wellness of their community. Please visit their Facebook page to learn more and find ways to donate or support at: https://www.facebook.com/NJFCenter/
Janice Harper, NJFC Community Organizer and Advocate for Parents & Students
Janice M. Harper has been a Community Organizer and Advocate of Nollie Jenkins Family Center (NJFC) since September 2010, working to develop and achieve positive changes that lead the community towards effective outcomes that positively change lives. She is an advocate for students’ educational rights, including the rights of families of children with disabilities. She works with young people in an intergenerational model of community and youth organizing that builds trust and confidence, and is an active participant in youth leadership development, parent training, policy advocacy, women and girls’ empowerment, environmental justice and the art projects, and educating community members around positive alternatives to suspensions such as NJFC’s Scholars of Peace Peer Mediation Program.
Through NJFC's PETS program, Ms. Harper put parents first. This includes meeting them where they are and employing user-friendly training techniques that parents can understand. She also advocates on behalf of students and parents by attending meetings that lead to Individualized Education Program/Plans (IEP) and Due Process Hearings.
Ms. Harper serves on several local, state-wide & national educational committees and recently completed a 5-year term as Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Federal Strategies/Liaison Co-Chair. She currently represents NJFC on the DSC Coordinating Committee, a decision-making role for the Coalition, along with serving as a member of the DSC Supervision & Governance and Fundraising & Finance sub-committees.
Since 2012 Ms. Harper has worked to address concerns related to the state-wide Prevention of Schoolhouse-2-Jailhouse (School-to-Prison Pipeline) initiative and other related educational reform issues that are designed to keep students in school. This has led to the success of NJFC’s local Campaign work that culminated in the abolishment of corporal punishment in the Holmes County Consolidated School District in July 2018.
Janice holds an undergraduate AA degree in Business from Ashford University and resides in Holmes County, MS by way of her hometown in Illinois.
Each of NJFC Board of Directors' current members was selected based on their continuing involvement in grassroots community work and their commitment to support the ongoing need to build the capacity of Nollie Jenkins Family Center to implement its program of work.
Nollie Jenkins Family Center Board Members
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25 Glendale St, Durant, Mississippi 39063, United States