College Looks to Help Grow the Surrounding Community

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-  The City of Little Rock has already seen 21 homicides since the start of the year.  That's half of the total number of homicides in 2016. 

"Young black men kill each other often time because they feel hopeless," says Dr. Fitz Hill.  Hill was president of Arkansas Baptist College from 2006-2016.  Now he's the Executive Director of the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development. 

Dr. Hill feels compelled to change that feeling of hopelessness. 

"We have to find ways to grow hope," says Hill. 

Starting with his time as president of ABC he made it his crusade to grow hope, create change, and build up the community around him. 

The historically black college has vastly changed from when he started in 2006. 

"I was inviting people to come to the community," says Hill.  "I was consistently told no.  It was 'I'm not coming there, it's too dangerous.'"

He began by observing. 

"I started realizing how much violence we were having at Martin Luther King and Wright Ave... at the car wash," says Hill. 

According to Hill in 2006 there were 36 violent incidents that happened at the car wash.   He says the first step to take back the community was buying the car wash.

The school re-branded it.  Then they used some of the revenue to purchase other properties in the area.  They got a lot of help. 

Over ten years $51 million has been invested into the community and campus.  Dr. Hill believes for "real" change, it takes social responsibility, access to education, and economic sustainability in the community.

"The negative role models are still here," says Hill.  "The positive role models have been extrapolated outside of the community because of opportunities."

The school has become a beacon of hope for so many who maybe otherwise wouldn't have the chance at an education. 

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