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Newport's Scholar House Moves Forward, Covington's Gets Extension

Newport will break ground next week on its new Scholar House while Covington's proposed project is extended another year.

By a 4 to 1 vote Tuesday night, the Covington City Commission extended its option-to-purchase agreement with Marian Development for another year. Marian was selected to create a Scholar House program in the long vacant Lincoln Grant School building on Greenup Street in conjunction with the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission. 

Scholar House is a statewide housing and education initiative that enables the head-of-household to reach self-sufficiency based on proven best practices and a comprehensive, two-generation approach. The housing and education components are operated jointly, with each reinforcing the other. Among the eligibility criteria is the requirement that the adult caregiver in the household be enrolled full-time in a two or four-year post-secondary degree program.

Last August, the city commission approved the original agreement with the Louisville-based developers to create 45 apartments at the site, 27 of which would be inside the historic structure and 18 that would go in a new building. In January, however, it was revealed that the project's effort to score low income tax credits from the federal government had deficiencies in its application, forcing it to wait till those funds are awarded in 2015.

(SEE ALSO: Photos: Inside the Lincoln Grant School Building)

Commissioner Michelle Williams cast the lone vote opposing the extension, saying that she believed that the project should be opened up to new bids again, instead of simply renewing the agreement with Marian.

"This isn't the only group that can do a Scholar House, so why not be fair and let everybody put their hats back in there?," Williams asked.

Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims said that Marian has successfully completed multiple Scholar House projects across Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in Newport, ground will break next week on that city's Scholar House, a project first announced in December.

Local leaders and community residents will join a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, August 20 to celebrate the start of construction at 450 West Sixth Street, next to the Marguerite Robinson Community Center.

The development team, led by Neighborhood Foundations, includes Brighton Properties, Inc., and The Model Group. Neighborhood Foundations will own and manage the property, and Brighton Center, Inc. will provide the Educational Program as well as other supportive services to the program participants, once the project is operational.

"We are pleased to be working with our partners on this project to bring a Scholar House to Newport. The community support for this project demonstrates the regional commitment to providing opportunities for all people to pursue educational success, employment and self-sufficiency," said Neighborhood Works executive director Tom Guidugli, in a statement. 

When complete, there will be 48 apartments and an on-site child development center.  The on-site childcare facility will be a licensed and STAR rated center caring for children from six weeks to school age in an enriching environment while the parent is in school. 

There also will be economic and educational support programs connecting parents with resources like child care assistance, food stamps, work study, financial aid, financial education and life skills training. Moreover, Northern Kentucky University, Gateway Community and Technical College and Cincinnati State have all endorsed Northern Kentucky Scholar House and will work with the project to provide academic supports and student services to help ensure the success of the single parents enrolled.

“Not only will parents be able to pursue skills and complete their education to improve their economic security and stability, but simultaneously they will be ensuring their children are on a path from the earliest age to engage in lifelong learning," said Brighton Center president and CEO Tammy Weidinger.

-Written by Bryan Burke and Michael Monks, RCN

Photo: Lincoln Grant School building/RCN file