Better with Numbers
Peer Power Quick Facts
hours of tutoring and mentoring since 2004
Act Prep Score Average Increase
College Students Employed by Peer Power
College Graduation Rate
students served from 9 states and 2 countries
In Earned Scholarships
About Our Organization
Peer Power is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains high-performing college students, called Success Coaches, to tutor in public school classrooms and mentor high school students to encourage active learning, valuing education, and being personally accountable for their futures.
Peer Power’s mission is to inspire and empower youth to take control of their academic success.
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.
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.
Peer Power has shown consistent results in several schools throughout Memphis and Mississippi, serving more than 3,500 students. 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 recognized 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.
Peer Power then introduced the Memphis Model in partnership with Shelby County School and University of Memphis. The program employs over 100 University of Memphis “Success Coaches” who are trained to tutor and mentor students in classrooms at East High School and Whitehaven High School. This unique model strives to place two Success Coaches in every high school level math, science and English course tested by the State of Tennessee.
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 range of sources. Peer Power seeks partners who are passionate about changing the lives of children today.
Your Support is Needed
Peer Power has made remarkable progress in helping hundreds of high school students improve their grades, graduate, and get ready for college. Right now, Peer Power is giving more than 5,000 students, 120 teachers and 5 schools (Whitehaven, East, Kingsbury, Douglas and Ridgeway) much more than good grades and college counseling. It’s giving them hope.
Most importantly, Peer Power is scalable and replicable. With the commitment of the administration, faculty, and students, the program can be adapted to fit practically any existing public school in communities of any size – as long as funds are available to support it.
I am currently a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Memphis. I also work as a success coach for Peer Power at East High School and I absolutely adore my job. The satisfaction from helping and encouraging young scholars is an overwhelmingly positive feeling that fills me with determination to constantly do better not only in my educational life, but in my personal life too. I take great pride walking into East High School knowing that I am not only a resource for the students, but also a mentor. I am that friend to talk to when something is going on, or even the outside opinion on a situation that shines the light onto a new viewpoint.
Peer Power to me is helping motivate students to graduate on time, and with dignity. Peer Power to me means inspiring that scholar to take the ACT again and raise their score, even if it is just by one more point. That one point can be the difference of a 2,000-dollar scholarship for college. Peer Power to me is getting the students excited for the endless possibilities past graduation, whether it be college or joining the work force. Peer Power to me is igniting the fire of determination and motivation under every student, and to welcome them into our world, post high school, with arms wide open, as that shoulder to lean on, as that support system when they need it.
Another reason why I love Peer Power so very much, is that it helps me to revisit old topics that I may have forgotten about when I was in high school. In turn, it benefits me in my college classes. As a biomedical engineering student, I take a ton of math classes. As a math success coach at East High, I get a refresh on topics that I haven’t seen in a long while, And if I am able to explain a topic, such as proofs in Geometry or absolute value functions in Algebra 2, to a student who may or may not have seen said topic before and for the students to understand it even just a little better, then I know that I fully understand the topic myself.
The relationships I have built during my time as a success coach at East High School are ones I will remember forever. Whether it be with my team leads, my teacher, students, and even other success coaches, the entirety of it all feels like a second family. I know that I have a support system at Peer Power, one that will always be there to pick me up when I am down, to congratulate me when I succeed, and one I can reply on in the future of my academic career.
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.
- Bachelor of Professional Studies: Organizational Leadership
- Minor: Communication/Non-Profit Management
- The University of Memphis
- Licensed Minister, Emerging Leader, City of Memphis Urban Fellows Intern, U of M Student Ambassador
- Peer Power tutor and mentor since 2004
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.
Matthew Carney is a graduate of the University of Memphis. He holds a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Religious Studies. Matt is a US Army veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq. He knows the value of discipline, hardwork and education.
He began working with Peer Power in 2015 as a Success Coach at Whitehaven High School. Matthew is also a certified instructor at Peer Power ACT University helping students from all over Shelby County prepare for the ACT exam. In 2017, Matthew became the Associate Program Director at Havenview Middle and continues to work in and out of the classroom helping to make the education experience and the future for today’s young scholars,,,, ten times better!
Malcom V. Rawls
Peer Power is a phenomenal program that is about bettering the lives of hundreds of students, one day at a time. The name itself exemplifies how powerful this program is. Through intensive commitment and dedication, complimented with wise leadership, Peer Power is able to effectively transform the lives of students through education and mentorship. With the help of Peer Power, these students are able to recognize the unlimited possibilities afforded to them within the community and the world. Peer Power creates a perpetuating cycle of leadership development that molds the young minds of our future, builds their academic and social skills, and converts them into productive global citizens. The creed of Peer Power says it all: “mastering reading, writing, and speaking skills lays the foundation for making the future of these young people TEN TIMES BETTER.”
- Bachelor of Arts: Foreign Languages
- Concentration: Spanish
- The University of Memphis
- Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Memphis Tiger Football Player
- Peer Power Tutor & Mentor since 2004
The average annual cost of successfully running Peer Power in a single school for a full year is $750 per student based on a school of 1000 students. The current annual budget for the program is approaching $4,000,0000, which includes payments to tutors and regular third-party evaluations to ensure our program’s effectiveness. The program’s administrative and overhead costs are entirely covered by our existing contributions. Your support will go where it can make the most difference – directly to our scholars and tutors. New contributions will accelerate the progress we have been making over the past eight years while improving the academic performance of many more young people in more schools.
Please join our email list and let us know if you are interested in visiting one of our participating schools.
If you would like to make a financial contribution, you can donate online or mail your check to:
Peer Power Foundation
Attention: Annual Fund
850 Ridge Lake Boulevard, Suite 1
Memphis, TN 38120
Contests & Events
Creative Writing Contest
Open to 9 – 12th grade SCS high school students
Deadline to submit is July 24th, 2020
Top 3 Entries receive $75 Prize
The submission must respond to one of the two prompts and can be any form of creative writing – poetry, nonfiction, or fiction. Entries don’t have to be in a journalistic format. Can be a short fiction story that shows the excitement, fear, etc that students may be feeling. Can be a poem of what the first day of school may look like. Those are just a few examples. The submission must be the original work of the student. It must not exceed 1,000 words. Cover page is not included in the word count. Must be a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx), double spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font. No identification information of the student should be included anywhere on the submission. One creative writing piece can be submitted per student.
- How are you feeling about going back to school this Fall?
- Describe a day in school during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
– grammar, spelling, and punctuation (20%)
– clarity/effectiveness of theme(s) (30%)
– originality and creativity for topic approach and overall final result (50%)
Please direct questions to Sydney Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race Across The River
On November 21, 2020, Big River Crossing Half-Marathon + 5K benefiting the Peer Power Foundation will present its fourth annual race making the interstate trek across the Mississippi River’s longest public pedestrian bridge.
For the first time ever, Peer Power has partnered with Memphis Runners Track Club (MRTC) to incorporate the Big River Crossing Half-Marathon + 5K as the final event in their Road Race Series. With an estimated 1,000 additional runners incorporated from MRTC, the 2020 race will be our biggest event to date.
Starting at the foot of Beale Street on Riverside Drive, the BRX Half-Marathon course takes runners over Big River Crossing, through the Big River Trail on the Arkansas flood plain, and along Dacus Lake. The event also includes the BRX 5K through Downtown and Tom Lee Park with inspiring views of Big River Crossing and the Mississippi River.
The BRX Half-Marathon + 5K will fund Peer Power’s mission to empower and inspire scholars through Peer Power’s innovative student-to-student tutoring program. Your sponsorship will create a public connection with this unique event and the transformative work it supports.
Our News & Announcements
MALCOM RAWLS | THE DAILY MEMPHIAN As an East High School student almost 20 years ago, I can recall how much I enjoyed helping friends and classmates work through their senior projects, finals prep and essays. I felt such joy in seeing others, whom I connected with...
COLE BRADLEY | HIGH GROUND NEWS Peer Power is hosting a creative writing contest with cash prizes for Shelby County Schools students in the ninth through twelfth grades during the 2019-20 school year. It asks students to speak to issues surrounding themes like the...
DAVID GUILDFORD | SPECTRUM NEWS KENTUCKY LOUISVILLE, KY — Students and teachers are adjusting to new types of learning right now, but standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are still required by universities — even if test dates have been moved. Jefferson County...
Reach out, call or join our email list.
Location: Peer Power Foundation
850 Ridge Lake Boulevard, Suite 1
Memphis, TN 38120
Telephone: (901) 761-8463