“Flooding Baton Rouge with Hope”: Family nights hosted by Baton Rouge Hope Zone Initiative offer resources, entertainment


The Baton Rouge Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BR-BCJI) Hope Zone is hosting Family Fun Nights to assist with rebuilding efforts in the community. Due to recent traumas experienced during the past few months, the events themed “Flooding BR with Hope” seeks to help residents reconnect, recover, and refocus.

Each family fun night showcases a wide array of resource organizations and businesses that provide free tools, knowledge and empowerment for families to positively engage. Local law enforcement agencies will be present to interact with the residents and share important tips on safety. Additional resources at the Family Fun Nights include free medical check-ups, free haircuts, guest speakers, food, and more.

After a summer of tumultuous events including the deaths of Mr. Alton Sterling and three Baton Rouge police officers, the Baton Rouge Hope Zone initiative aspires to help the community rebuild and regain normalcy.

Due to the events during the summer in Baton Rouge, the grant experienced a short delay in activities. To combat that, and to provide resources and entertainment to Baton Rouge families, the Baton Rouge Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BR-BCJI) is hosting Family Fun Nights to assist with rebuilding efforts in the community. The events are themed “Flooding BR with Hope.”

“There is no better time to reconnect with these goals while our city strives to rebuild and recover from the many recent traumas experienced during the past few months,” SREC research associate Jada Thomas-Smith said.

With two Family Fun Nights already in the books, Thomas-Smith said she is looking forward to the third on November 21, which will be held at Save BR at 732 N. Carrolton Avenue, from 6-8 p.m. on November 21.

“The first two events were a huge success,” she said. “To be able to help families and provide resources through this program even after a delay in the grant activities has been wonderful. I look forward to the third Family Fun Night being as successful as the others.”

 Designed to revitalize and enhance the community, the BCJI grant targets an approximately 5.2 square mile cluster of six adjoining neighborhoods: Melrose East, Smiley Heights, Greenville Extension, Midtown, Istrouma, and Eden Park. The residents of these neighborhoods elected to name this BCJI initiative and their collective community the BR Hope Zone. 

The BR Hope Zone neighborhoods share three common goals through the implementation of the grant. These goals include: 
• Improve public health and safety through the reduction and prevention of chronic crime;
• Deter future crime by addressing the social impacts most likely to impact crime, including physical disorder, socio–economic status, and resources;
• Build and enhance the capacity of cross-sector partnerships and community residents to more effectively target the presenting crime issues and to ensure the long term implementation of broader neighborhood revitalization strategies. 

The LSU Office of Social Research & Evaluation Center (SREC) is the program evaluator for this initiative, of which Dr. Tracey Rizzuto, assistant professor in the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development (SLHRD), was a key researcher.

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The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

Visit the College of Human Sciences & Education at chse.lsu.edu.