One of the major contributors to students not reaching their potential academically is the lack of one-on-one in reviewing and understanding material covered in classes at school. Many times if a student falls behind in a subject area, without personal attention and encouragement, he will not have the motivation and self-confidence to catch-up. That may result in the student staying behind and even having behavioral problems because of embarrassment when called upon for participation in classes.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Jackson, Inc. is a nonprofit child development agency; therefore, their funds are limited and they are unable to pay staff to provide personalized homework assistance to each child. A committed regular volunteer staff available to work during their special homework assistance time, from 4:30pm – 5:30pm, is an absolute necessity. These hours, however, conflict with most adults work schedules and the schedules of extra-curricular activities of many high school students in the area.
In the fall of 1996 the Jackson Young Lawyers Association, Child Advocacy Committee, had a desire to start a mentoring program with the children of the Jackson metropolitan area. The Boys and Girls Clubs’ need of mentors during the “Power Hour” academic assistance program came to their attention. In the spring semester of 1997, 10 attorneys started working with the children of the Sykes Unit for one hour a week. Before they realized it, the semester was over. The next fall they were able to provide mentors two days a week for one hour and this past fall 28 attorneys participated in the program.
In December of 2000, the reading levels of 88 elementary students and 17 middle school students were tested. Of the 88 elementary students tested, 32 students read at one, two or three levels above their grade level, 41 students were reading at their grade level and only 15 were reading at one or two levels below their grade level.
The Jackson Young Lawyers also support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Jackson materially. The Jackson Young Lawyers sponsored a golf tournament in 1999 and 2000. The tournament raised $3,800 dollars for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Jackson, Inc. in August of 2000. This organization was also pivotal in the establishment of a computer lab at the Sykes Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Jackson by providing eight computers and teaching the club members proper use of the machines.
By their actions and continued commitment to the “Power Hour” program, the Jackson Young Lawyers Association has also shown the children of the Sykes Unit that they are important. This is a tremendous boost to the children’s self-esteem, which in turn affects the community at large.