History

A successful entrepreneur and dedicated philanthropist, Charles McVean had grown increasingly troubled by the poor performance of Memphis' public schools and believed that the American free enterprise system held the remedy.  Combining a performance-based compensation model with the powerful effects of peer groups, he launched his unique student-to-student tutoring concept at East High School.  The program was successful and soon evolved into Peer Power.

Today, Peer Power is active in several schools throughout Memphis and Mississippi, serving more than 1,000 students every year. The program's progress is consistent across all locations. In Shelby, Mississippi, standardized test passing rates leapt from 37% to 91% for students enrolled in the program.  In 2010, five Peer Power tutors were valedictorians of their senior classes.

The rest of the country is starting to recognize our success as well. In 2011, Meah King, an English teacher and Peer Power Faculty Champion at East High School, won a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.  The U.S. Department of Education named Peer Power the Division Winner for Out-of-School programs for its 2012 National Education Startup Challenge.

In 2015, Peer Power announced the Memphis Model in partnership with Shelby County School and University of Memphis. The program employs over 100 University of Memphis “Success Coaches” (tutors) who are trained and deployed into classrooms at East High School and Whitehaven High School. Three coaches will work in each SCS teacher directed classroom. These classes are divided into three nine-member teams, each being led by its own respective “success coach”. The teams compete for meaningful rewards. This unique configuration reduces the student to teacher ratio from about 28 to 1 down to roughly 7 to 1. The focus courses will be English I, Algebra I and Biology. 

While a number of worthy efforts are trying to gradually reform school districts across America, Peer Power is making progress now by placing students in leadership roles that prepare them for lifetimes of success.  Now that we know the model works, we see a terrific opportunity for bringing it to more students in more schools, which will require additional funding from a greater diversity of sources.  Peer Power seeks partners who are passionate about changing the lives of children today. 

I want to be somebody, someday!

Tutor

Robert C. Buggs

Peer Power is an enrichment program that helps students succeed both inside and outside the classroom.  This description alone does not serve the program justice because it does so much more.  Peer Power has taught me many life lessons and opened so many doors for me.  Peer Power allows individuals, both adults and adolescents, to partake in activities that he or she may not be accustomed to.  The program aided me in knowing that there is so much in the world to learn, see, and experience.  Over these past six years, the program has bought me laughter, knowledge, and most importantly, comradery.  I enjoy seeing the faces of the program both in the office and outside as well.  These faces that are seen throughout the program are not just my coworkers, but my Peer Power Family.  It happened without me knowing it and I would not change it for the world.  Peer Power is the home where I learned that nothing is impossible, the home where dreams come true, and the home where my heart is.  Although I am out working, earning degrees, and living life, I will never forget my beginning with Peer Power.  As I grow, Peer Power grows, as I achieve, Peer Power achieves, and as I live, Peer Power lives through me.