Gee's Bend Resource Center
GEE'S BEND RESOURCE CENTER
Providing staffing, public computers, and free internet access for
Seeking to address historic underrepresentation in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership is partnering with the United States Census Bureau to ensure a complete and accurate survey of its Census tract in Wilcox County, which currently has the lowest response rate in the state. To encourage participation and enhance access, Souls Grown Deep established the first public, free center offering Internet connectivity and laptop computers in Gee’s Bend, is employing residents to staff a phone bank, and is incentivizing Census completion. Since 62.5% of the rural tract’s households have no home Internet subscription, the new center also provides essential access for residents to receive economic stimulus payments from the CARES Act and register to vote. Souls Grown Deep is complementing the physical infrastructure it has provided with an information campaign dedicated to help share the significance of voter registration and Census participation to increase representation and crucial federal funding.
The new resource center temporarily assumes the lease of local restaurant Aunt Ruby’s Kitchen in Alberta, AL. Souls Grown Deep is paying members of the community to staff the center, who have been trained to assist residents of Wilcox County, Alabama in completing the 2020 Census, filling out required forms for federal stimulus checks, and registering to vote. Souls Grown Deep is also partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to establish a phone bank, staffed by paid community members, to target households that have yet to participate in the Census. It is further incentivizing participation in the Census by distributing gift certificates valid at local grocery stores.
The center has already served individuals not only in the unincorporated areas of Alberta and Boykin, Alabama, which comprise Gee’s Bend, but also across Wilcox County, where one out of three residents lives in poverty, according to the 2010 Census. Souls Grown Deep is evaluating opportunities to extend its presence in Gee’s Bend beyond the current lease and to launch additional initiatives to support economic development and creative industries through the center. The center adheres to all safety procedures in accordance with CDC recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19.