Alabama Power Foundation helps jump-start HIPPY early education program

SELMA – A program to help at-risk preschoolers in Dallas County get a solid educational foundation at home received funding to get the project off the ground from the Alabama Power Foundation.

The $2,000 grant will provide training for a coordinator to operate a Dallas County chapter of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). The contribution will send the soon-to-be-named coordinator to Little Rock, Ark., in early August for training that must be finished before the chapter can open.

Starting this September, four HIPPY “parent educators” under the coordinator’s direction will fan out across Dallas County to instruct parents about how to teach a pre-school curriculum. Parents will in turn teach letters, shapes, colors and motor skills to their children ages 3, 4 and 5.

The curriculum is designed to give pre-schoolers a solid foundation when they enter K-5 or first grade. It serves the double purpose of involving parents early in their children’s education and letting kids know learning is an important part of family life.

At-risk children are defined as those who may not be prepared by their parents for school because of difficult family or financial situations.

“I cannot tell you what a big help this is,” said Joanne Shum, executive director of HIPPY Alabama. “There were no funds available to send someone to Arkansas for the training. The Alabama Power Foundation stepped up to the plate and made it possible to get this program off to a good start in Dallas County.”

“We are appreciative that the Alabama Power Foundation recognizes the significance and long-term benefits of providing a school readiness program that prepares pre-schoolers for success in school,” said Dr. Fannie McKenzie, superintendent of Dallas County schools.

The grant coincides with Alabama Power’s efforts to raise standards of education, quality of life and economic prosperity in the Black Belt. Margaret Bentley, area manager for Alabama Power, serves as co-chair of Gov. Bob Riley’s Black Belt Action Commission (BBAC).

“The Alabama Power Foundation is committed to bringing success and a sense of well-being to the Black Belt region,” Bentley said. “Preparing at-risk children in Dallas County to enter school on a firm footing is a great way to help achieve those goals.”

Bentley said the BBAC education committee proposed starting HIPPY programs in Dallas County and two other Black Belt counties. BBAC co-chair Hank Sanders, a veteran state senator from Selma, then secured $1.7 million to start new programs in Dallas, Hale and Lowndes counties, and begin or sustain more than 15 programs throughout Alabama, benefiting some 2,500 children.

More information on HIPPY is available at Learn more about the Black Belt Action Commission at

The Alabama Power Foundation works to improve the quality of life of Alabamians and strengthen the communities in which they live. Since 1990, the foundation has provided more than $100 million in grants to worthy projects across Alabama. Details about the foundation are available at

Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO), provides reliable, affordable electricity to more than 1.4 million customers across the state. Learn more about Alabama Power at