LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – UAMS is setting out to help one student at a time in Pine Bluff, after receiving a grant from a federal program that is focused on reducing violent crime in schools.

On Thursday, Pine Bluff had its 26th homicide. Those at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences are hoping to stop that violence by helping children.

Dr. Stanely Ellis, Director of Education for the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Innovation, said the school received the $1 million grant in September from the U.S. Department of Justice and it is only for three years unless they plan on renewing it. He said that this grant could help many students at Pine Bluff schools.

“If we can help reduce the violence in with the kids in the community early that permeates to the parents or inside the homes and throughout the rest of the school,” Ellis. said

He said they’re partnered with a number of community-based programs like the Hurricane Hype Center which is in the New St. Hurricane Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.

“It means a lot to us, we are extremely vested in our community,” Pastor and center board president Derick Easter said.

Easter said the grant will help sustain their programs and continue to give students a safe and loving environment.

“We’re providing after-school programs, summer programs, coding clubs, youth basketball leagues and a variety of other opportunities,” Easter said. 

Easter wants the center to bridge the gap between students and make a positive change.

“We will be able to help students to better handle their trauma,” Easter said.

Ellis said through the grant they will widen their efforts.

“Helping develop a school safety plan, it will be used for program management and also finding someone that will be a liaison in the community who the community members are familiar with,” Ellis explained.

Through the grant, they are hoping to address all types of violence to not only change lives for the better but save them.