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VOL. 126 | NO. 15 | Monday, January 24, 2011

Jeremy Park

Giving Through Scholarships


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Last week we talked about the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and ways you can partner with them to help children who have been abused. This week let us look at how we can help shape our community and future leaders through scholarships.

I recently sat down Michael Whaley, founder and school director at Memphis College Preparatory Elementary School, www.memphiscollegeprep.org. Whaley’s school is helping redefine the focus and template for our education system and producing astounding results. For example, 71 percent of their kindergarten scholars enrolled at a below basic literacy level. Within two and a half months, 64 percent then tested at or above grade level in literacy. As Whaley states, “We have one focus: college graduation.”

Part of the success at Memphis College Prep comes from their model, based on best practices and proven results from the best charter schools in the nation. It also stems from high expectations and rigorous curriculum, including more than three hours of literacy instruction and 80 minutes of math instruction every day, in addition to science, social studies, music, and character education. Their school year is longer at 190 days, versus 180, and their day is extended from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., which allows for proper academic instruction and support for ambitious goals.

When it comes to local education, there are a number of amazing success stories, like Memphis College Prep and the Jubilee Schools, which have grown from one kindergarten class of 26 students to eight schools now educating more than 1,600 students. The Jubilee Schools educate the children, clothe them, wash their uniforms, and provide breakfast and lunch. These students are excelling academically and outperforming on standardized tests in reading, language and math.

These are stories we need to champion and cultures of learning we need to cultivate. Approximately 70 percent of the necessary tuition for Memphis College Prep comes from government and foundation support, which means there is a 30 percent gap. As Michael and I were talking, we had a number of great ideas pop up, where companies and individuals could easily help with the effort. I will expand on these in upcoming columns, but the first is creating a legacy through a scholarship.

In general, I think one of the most gratifying pay-it-forward gifts is a scholarship. As a company, many, including Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance, set aside dollars each year to support youth scholarships, as well as continuing education among personnel.

Earmarking even a nominal amount each month for a local student can create an amazing personal relationship, where you can watch them grow. It gives you confidence knowing you are helping build a more educated workforce and community. I encourage you to check out Memphis College Prep and the Blue Streak Scholarship Fund, www.bssf.net, to see how your support can change lives.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.

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