The United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Personal Excellence Partnership (PEP) program is dedicated to promoting self-worth among students in the Bellevue, NE Public School System and reinforcing the knowledge, traits, attitudes and skills essential for responsible citizenship and effective participation in the American workforce. In order to achieve these goals, PEP volunteers tutor students in academics, act as guest lecturers, assist teachers in the classroom, offer opportunities for job shadowing and career exploration, help at Health and Science Fairs and assist with Sports Day activities and health screenings.
However, the PEP program strives to instill more than just reading and math skills. They recognize that children are the nation's future. PEP exemplifies honor, courage and commitment—core values to every military member. The same values, they believe, are the key to ensuring that children grow into productive members of American society and are able to build a strong future. PEP volunteers are more than just additional manpower for the schools—they are positive role models. Most PEP volunteer spend several hours each month working individually with students, allowing volunteers to forge personal relationships with the students and providing opportunities for mentoring. As a result, students improve more than just academically.
The program's growth since 1993 can best describe the positive impact and lasting impressions made by PEP volunteers. Originally, a handful of USSTRATCOM volunteers, with the approval of the Bellevue School District, established a partnership with an elementary school located in the base housing area. In five years, the program has expanded to include five schools. In the last year alone, PEP volunteers spent over 1,000 hours at these 5 schools. What began as a small group of individuals trying to help an overburdened school has grown into a strong program boasting members from every Service—Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines—as well as civilian employees.
Volunteer recruitment remains the key to implementing PEP's vision. Much of the growth can be attributed directly to the commitment of not only the volunteers, but also the innovations and mobilization efforts supported by senior USSTRATCOM leaders. They encourage supervisors to allow volunteers the time during duty hours to participate in PEP. Senior leaders also set the example. PEP volunteers include people from all ranks – the junior enlisted to the general officer. Additionally, the PEP coordinator works closely with other organizations stationed at Offutt Air Force Base and through other Nebraska agencies. As a result, at least one more school will be added to the list shortly.