Community Based Organization Spotlight: The Peer Power Foundation (TN)
Sydney Olojo, Director of Storytelling, Peer Power Institute
The Peer Power Foundation (Memphis, TN) is a nonprofit organization that recruits and trains high-performing college students to deliver high-dosage tutoring and mentorship in public schools. The organization launched in 2005 as a unique student-to-student tutoring concept at East High School, hiring 40 high school honors students to tutor and mentor their peers. This inaugural effort led to better academic performance, increased school involvement and increased motivation from students. This has led to what Peer Power is today–a tutoring-mentoring program that has served more than 28,000 students to date. The tutors, now called Success Coaches, are high-performing, compassionate college students who have strong subject-content knowledge. Peer Power provides Success Coaches with competitive wages, flexible schedules, internship credit opportunities and essential life and job skills. The organization aims to improve the lives of the diverse talent who help carry out the mission of inspiration and empowerment. From learning how to design and deliver educational content to developing interpersonal skills that navigate classes in-person and online, Success Coaches build impressive resumes for future opportunities.
Peer Power partnered with the University of Memphis and Shelby County Schools (SCS) beginning in 2015. The program now employs 131 Success Coaches who are placed in classes to assist an assigned teacher with lesson design and delivery. Through consistent high-dosage tutoring, Success Coaches offer more individualized learning experiences and provide immediate attention and feedback to students. Peer Power also offers other opportunities for SCS students, like test prep instruction through an ACT Prep University program where more than 4,500 students have been served. On average, students who attend the full round achieve a 3.4 composite score increase. Peer Power also partners with The University of Memphis Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to give students who excel in academics an exclusive recruitment experience, orienting them to college life with access to counselors for student and parent questions. Since the start of this program, there’s been an increase in enrollment to the University of Memphis from partner school students.
In 2018, The Peer Power Institute was launched at the University of Memphis to work with leadership in different academic departments to coordinate development, gather data and improve the quality of services. Through partnership with the University of Memphis, Peer Power also provides a comprehensive, paid internship experience. There are multiple options for students entering the internship program, including job and course credit opportunities. Additionally, the Peer EmPOWERment Fellowship will launch at the University of Memphis in Fall of 2021; incoming freshmen will have the chance to take Peer Power staff-led courses. There they can earn a competitive wage as a Success Coach, take academic courses to better prepare them for their role as tutors and mentors in SCS classrooms and attend monthly personal, professional and leadership development training. Peer Power’s vision is to create a world where all children are provided the ability to learn and grow regardless of their zip code, and the passionate college students Peer Power works with make positive change possible.