WICHITA, Kansas – – Wichita State University has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.
The grant is one of five that was awarded to cities, like Wichita, across the state.
The goal of the grant is to make neighborhoods around the Wichita State campus more safe.
Ted Ayres, Director of Office of Community Engagement and Opportunity with WSU keeps a picture of 36 year old Letitia Davis on his wall.
A stark reminder of the gruesome incident at Fairmount Park last November, when Davis was sexually assaulted and lit on fire in the park.
“Was really the straw that broke the camels back, that was okay, we need to be part of a resolution to these issues,” said Ayres.
That’s what Ayres is hoping this grant will help do.
He says the prime focus in the beginning will be shined on the Fairmount neighborhood.
So far, Ayres says, they’ve set aside some of the grant money to hire a community liasion…
“That person will be coordinating, providing information to and for the university, the neighborhood and the health foundation,” said Ayres.
Ayres felt it was critically important to include those who live the area in the hiring process.
Khondoker Usama is the Vice President of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association, having lived in the neighborhood for five years.
While there is no concrete plan on exactly where the rest of the grant money will be used, Usama says he would like it go towards a few things in his neighborhood.
“First of all, the lighting situation, the safety, security in general, more patrolling in the area, more community police involvement,” said Usama.
He adds that this grant money directly correlates with the “Enough is Enough” Task Force that was formed in December of last year.
In addition, Ayres has created the Shocker Neighborhood Coalition, made up of University faculty, staff and students.
This coalition will have seven focus areas: law enforcement, health and well being, community relations, social issues, economic development, education and infrastructure.
Ayres says an action plan will be created and a community meeting is being planned for September.