Peer Power is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization innovating the public education system by inspiring and empowering youth to take control of their academic success. A successful entrepreneur and dedicated philanthropist, East High School graduate Charlie McVean founded the program in December 2004 to address poor performance in Memphis’s public schools. Combining an incentive-based compensation model with the influential effects of peer groups, he launched his unique student-to-student tutoring method at East. The program was an immediate success and swiftly evolved into Peer Power.

After a decade, Peer Power streamlined its strategy and enhanced the methods demonstrated to be most effective. This process culminated in the Memphis Model, a partnership between Peer Power, the University of Memphis and Shelby County Schools, that recruits high-performing college students known as Success Coaches to tutor public high school students in the classroom. This model improves grades, standardized test scores, and college and job readiness. In addition to academic benefits, Peer Power provides an opportunity for college students to gain job experience and the financial means to stay in school. The Memphis Model incorporates Success Coaches in the classroom, with a goal to reduce the student-to-adult ratio from 1:30 to about 1:10. This lower student-to-adult ratio improves the job satisfaction and performance for full-time teachers, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention of valuable teachers.

Structure

The Memphis Model” is a unique partnership of the University of Memphis (24,000 students), Shelby County School System (110,000 students) and Peer Power. It also combines market-based approaches with youth empowerment and educational practices.

The Peer Power Institute has been established at the University of Memphis adjacent to the Dean of the Department of Education in Ball Hall. This partnership will enable Peer Power, Shelby County Schools, and the University of Memphis to create an environment of collaboration to ensure the success of our students and Success Coaches. 

Peer Power started the 2018-19 school year with 122 Success Coaches who received 48 hours of summer training at the University of Memphis and participate in Monthly Motivators, professional development training sessions aimed to sharpen their skills. The total number of hours committed by Peer Power for training will approach 10,000 by May 2019.

Peer Power also operates ACT Prep University, which served students from Shelby County Schools in 2018. The goal of this program is to get test scores to a 22, the minimum for Shelby County students to be eligible for Tennessee state-funded scholarships.

Mission

Peer Power’s mission is to inspire and empower youth to take control of their academic success.

Our Assignment

Peer Power recruits, employs, and trains high-performing college students, called Success Coaches, to tutor and mentor high school students, encourage active learning, value education, and be personally accountable for their futures.

I want to be somebody, someday!

Cortney C. Richardson

I am a Native Memphian, East High Graduate, and University of Memphis Alumnus who takes pride in being able to say that I serve where I was raised. As a Peer Power Program Director, I have the opportunity to impact the lives of students who share similar beginnings as I do. These scholars benefit greatly from my experience as a student leader during college, my years of international travel as a gospel singer, and my lifelong dedication to GOD and my local church. I am a walking billboard of what is possible regardless of where you come from. It is from this philosophy, that I work to create, grow, and sustain programs that help hone youth into the people they were created to be. I started with Peer Power at its inception and I am honored to continue through our glory days.