The Charleston Area Alliance has secured a $13,000 State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant for Project West Invest, the Charleston Police Department community engagement program.
Developed by Charleston Police Cpl. Errol Randle and Detective Eddie Whitehead, Project West Invest works to build and maintain lasting relationships and community trust by helping police officers purchase and renovate a home for themselves in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. Project West Invest officers work as partners to identify problems at a local level and, working with residents, respond to them.
Funding from State Farm will support the second phase of Project West Invest: neighborhood revitalization. Homeowners in Project West Invest city blocks will receive exterior renovations and landscaping coordinated by the West Invest officers and executed by local volunteer groups. The revitalization effort connects the officers and citizens without an overtone, allowing them to work together to reinvigorate the neighborhood and create a safer, more-enriched community.
“Project West Invest creates long-term stakeholders in some of the city’s most challenged neighborhoods,” said Susie Salisbury, the Charleston Area Alliance’s vice president of community development. “This program empowers officers to proactively look at a neighborhood and try to identify and address the needs of the community. The Project West Invest approach opens the door for an everyday dialogue, bringing law enforcement and community members together.”
State Farm, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies, provides grants across the country to promote safety, community development and education.
“Project West Invest aligns with State Farm’s mission of developing stronger, safer and better educated communities,” said Dave Phillips, State Farm media relations specialist. “By working with organizations such as the Charleston Area Alliance and the Charleston Police Department that share State Farm’s concern for healthy neighborhoods, we are able to focus on driving results.”
Already three officers have moved into their new West Side neighborhoods and are making strides to build relationships – participating in local projects, organizing community meetings, frequenting local establishments and just simply being a neighbor.
West Invest Officers receive $50,000 to purchase a home and make necessary renovations, choosing homes from a City of Charleston compiled list of homes already on the market. The officers commit to live in the residence for at least 10 years. To date, Project West Invest has received funding from the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the Kanawha Valley Council on Philanthrophy.