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September 2, 2009


(Shelby, MS, September 2, 2009)-- Officials with the North Bolivar School District and the Greater North Bolivar Schools Foundation (GNBSF) announced this evening the receipt of a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant which will fund the expansion of the Peer Power, Family and Community Enrichment Program. The grant amounts to approximately $600,000.00 over the next five years.

"The award of this grant is tremendous news for the North Bolivar School District and the students it will benefit," says Shelby native Rives Neblett, founder and director of the Greater North Bolivar Schools Foundation. "Having this kind of financial support will mean that we can touch the lives of so many more students with a program that has already proven to be successful in our own community."

The Peer Power Program, which was piloted in the North Bolivar School District in school year 2008-2009, initially was funded by the Greater North Bolivar Schools Foundation, which was established through a private contribution by Neblett. It was patterned after the highly successful Peer Power Program at East High School in Memphis, TN, that was funded by philanthropist, Charles McVean. Since the initiation of the program pre- and post-test scores show a dramatic increase and improvement on state tests and an increase in attendance rates among participating students during the short period the program was conducted.

"The 21st Century grant will let us greatly expand the Peer Power Program that was begun last school year," notes Superintendent of North Bolivar Schools, Ronzy Humphrey. "It will pair 70 Shelby Middle School students (35 in the 7th grade and 35 in the 8th grade) with 15 high-performing Broad Street High School and 15 successful Delta State University students, assisted by qualified teachers."

The program will provide academic enrichment, tutoring/mentoring, character education, remediation in mathematics and language arts, as well as drug and violence prevention for a total of nine hours per week for 30 weeks during the school year—9 hours after school each week and two hours one Saturday per month. In addition, there will be cultural activities to expose students to the arts and field trips to give students a variety of educational experiences, including historic sites, museums, college and university campuses and businesses. Parents/guardians and families of students are invited to participate in all programs as well as training sessions designed to help them learn how to better assist their children with homework and other learning activities.

"We are so pleased to be able to expand the Peer Power Program, thanks to the award of this grant," says Shelby Middle School Principal, Joe Lordi. " We have already seen what the program can do on a small scale, and now we can offer it to more students and help to make an even greater impact in our community over the next five years and beyond."

The Peer Power, Family and Community Enrichment Program is a unique collaboration between the North Bolivar School District and the Greater North Bolivar Schools Foundation. The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant was submitted with the assistance of the Mississippi Center for Education Innovation, whose mission is to "transform education in Mississippi through community and family engagement, early childhood education, teacher quality, and leadership development."