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Released February 6, 2003


HATTIESBURG - A University of Southern Mississippi-based community service program will help tutor and mentor some 7,500 disadvantaged middle and secondary school students across the state as part of the federally funded GEAR UP program.

Southern Miss's Center for Community and Civic Engagement will participate in GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) with the aid of a five-year, $64,425 grant channeled through the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. Jennifer Phillips has joined CCCE as tutoring and mentoring coordinator for the program.

GEAR UP in Mississippi represents a collaborative effort between IHL, CCCE, the Mississippi State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, the Mississippi Department of Education, and a wide variety of other public and private agencies and organizations.

"The program's mission is to ensure that disadvantaged middle school and secondary school students in Mississippi are prepared for, pursue and succeed in post-secondary education," said Dr. Tom Schnaubelt, CCCE director.

He said the program is designed to address needs in family and community outreach; tutoring and mentoring of students; professional development for counselors, administrators and teachers; technology resources, network and integrated support; and college tuition assistance.

Schnaubelt said GEAR UP will work with 34 school districts that were targeted according to free-reduced lunch and Title I, dropout-graduation rates and classification by the Mississippi Department of Education as "at-risk" schools. CCCE will focus on the tutoring and mentoring component of the program, he said, and will provide these services to some 7,500 lower-income students.

Phillips grew up in New Orleans and recently moved from Phoenix, Ariz., to Hattiesburg. She holds a master of arts degree in administration from the University of New Orleans and earlier served as grants coordinator and special projects director of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, where she organized and oversaw a variety of community initiatives and projects.

CCCE is a Southern Miss-based program that promotes community service and academics among youth through a variety of after-school and service-learning programs across Mississippi. Established in November 2000 by IHL and the state Department of Education, the center fosters partnerships between K-12 schools, institutions of higher learning and local nonprofit entities; and develops programs that integrate service opportunities with learning.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM