Peer Power Introduces Virtual ACT Prep Courses, Writing Contest to Incentivize & Award Students

April 17th, 2020

Peer Power Introduces Virtual ACT Prep Courses & Writing Contest to Incentivize & Award Students

Peer Power Foundation, a Memphis-based nonprofit organization innovating the public education system in partnership with Shelby County Schools and University of Memphis, has announced a free, online ACT Prep University and high-school Creative Writing Contest beginning Monday, April 20.

Peer Power’s model recruits, trains, and employs high-performing college students from the University of Memphis to coach and mentor Shelby County Schools high school students. Due to COVID-19 precautions and indefinite delays of in-classroom teaching, Peer Power is following Shelby County Schools’ protocols while proactively developing virtual curriculum to support this transitional period. 

“We recognized a need to re-engage and incentivize scholars in a dynamic virtual classroom during COVID-19,” said Cortney Richardson, Peer Power Program Director. “We have the opportunity to create continuous and active online learning environment with our Success Coaches as our partners at Shelby County School and other school districts across the nation navigate curriculum to keep our students and teachers committed and on track.”

Peer Power’s ACT Prep University is a recurring program historically held on the University of Memphis campus on weekends; now, the curriculum is shifting entirely online and free-of-charge for high school students both locally and out-of-market. 

"We are grateful that Peer Power Foundation has such a strong commitment to equity,” said Greg Vann of Jefferson County Public Schools Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Department who is recruiting students to join Peer Power’s ACT Prep University virtually from the Kentucky district. “This program will grant opportunity and access to students who otherwise may not be able to experience this dynamic and proven program.”

Registration is open for weekly sessions beginning April 20 through June 8. Each week, which consecutively builds upon weeks prior, includes a 10 a.m.-noon Monday and Wednesday course with a Friday review from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Peer Power’s ACT Prep University registration is open through Friday, April 24 at Registration for the June 13 ACT exam closes May 8. 

In addition, Peer Power has produced a Creative Writing Contest to encourage storytelling and writing during COVID-19 among high school students. Peer Power will award cash prizes to winning short fiction or nonfiction writing samples, which are guided by prompts surrounding issues including the coronavirus pandemic, technology, the power of choice, and goal-setting. Submissions are due May 22. 

Students who submit to the Creative Writing Contest will receive free virtual support from Peer Power Success Coaches to improve their writing and grammar skills. Success Coaches will review and score the writing samples, ultimately selecting the winners.

“We’re committed to demonstrating the value of our peer-to-peer approach through the virtual classroom,” continued Richardson. “Our parameters from this pandemic are providing us with new opportunities to support student and expand our reach. We look forward to getting started.”

To learn more about the Creative Writing Contest, visit

ABOUT PEER POWER. 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 success. Peer Power’s Memphis Model recruits, trains, and employs high-performing college scholars to coach and mentor public high school students within the classroom. This model improves high schoolers’ grades, standardized test scores, and college and job readiness, provides college students with job experience and the financial means to stay in school, and increases teachers’ job satisfaction, performance, and retention by reducing the student-to-instructor ratio to 1:10. To learn more, visit

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I want to make my future TEN TIMES BETTER!

Jennifer Williams

I am a Junior at the University of Memphis, and my majors include criminal justice and social work. I work at East High School as a Success Coach within Peer Power. First and foremost, Peer Power is more than just a job. Peer Power is fellowship and understanding combined with the encouragement and tools needed to be the best that I can be, both in and outside of work. It’s taking that encouragement and those tools and empowering high school students to do the same. Peer Power has impacted me as an individual by giving me the opportunity to positively impact the lives of students, teachers, and my peers, as well as giving me life skills that I will utilize throughout my entire life.