Birmingham nonprofit hopes to tackle crime one book at a time

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:51 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Picking up a book instead of a gun, that’s the hope of a Birmingham nonprofit that just received a big grant from the Department of Justice. The group looking to be a part of the solution when it comes to tackling crime.

Reading and math are some of the main building blocks of life. Teaching the life skills are a part of the mission of Better Basics Inc in Birmingham. It’s a group of retired educators and volunteers.

“Everything we do, we try and bring children up to grade level in reading and math,” Dr. Kristi Bradford, Executive Director of Better Basics Inc. said.

The group hopes a recent grant will help further the mission and also help tackle crime. Better Basics awarded a more than $28,000 public safety grant through the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants. The city of Birmingham received $49,000 to improve technology targeting crime-ridden areas of the city. The Offender Alumni Association received $29,890 to expose at-risk youth to positive role models, including formerly incarcerated people who have turned their lives around.

At Better Basics, we’re told the money will provide academic and enrichments programs at Central Park and Martha Gaskins Elementary schools. Dr. Bradford tells us the areas around both schools account for 55-percent of property and violent crimes in the city.

“The Department of Justice has even said that a higher literacy rate effects a lower crime rate and vice versa…when you have a high crime rate there’s usually low literacy rate, so we felt like we were the perfect ones to be able to solve that problem,” Bradford said.

Bradford says its not going to be an overnight fix by any means. She’s hopeful bringing in teachers three days a week into these elementary schools will help be a part of the solution and set students up for success.

“We want them to be able to get the best job possible. We want them to be career or college ready and we can do that if we give them those fundamental reading skills and math skills because we know that if we get them at that young age and lay those foundations then we can set the track, the trajectory for them to get all the way to graduation,” Bradford said.

Dr. Bradford says studies have shown that if children have at least five age-appropriate books in their home and read them or have read to them then that will increase their educational journey.

You can learn more about Better Basics, Inc. at


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