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Grant funds program to keep Utah teens in school

By Amanda Butterfield | Posted - Apr. 14, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.



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MURRAY -- Every 26 seconds a student drops out of school in America. That statistic comes from the Boys and Girls Club in Murray, which is implementing a new program to keep Utah teens in school.

It's Power Hour at the Boys and Girls Club in Murray. Monday through Friday at 4 p.m., the kids are expected to study.

What is... POWER HOUR?
POWER HOUR is a comprehensive homework help and tutoring program designed to raise the academic proficiency of Club members ages 6 to 12.

"I get a chance to do homework right after school and don't have to worry about it, and [I] get extra help with friends and staff," says Freeman Lewis, who attends the Power Hour program.

That's the key: help. Some of the students are here because their grade-point average is slipping, others just might need a little extra encouragement.

"A lot of our students come from a background where education isn't a priority for their family," says Michael Cox, director of the Boys and Girls Club in Murray.

That's why a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Life Foundation is so helpful. It's going to help pay for extra staffing, supplies and incentives to help keep these kids in school.

After all, Utah does need a little help getting students to graduate.

"We are 72 percent graduation rate, which means there is a gap of quite of few students that aren't graduating," Cox says.

The club has also pinpointed those who need the most help.

"Statistics show low-income groups are more likely to drop out than their peers. Minority groups, only 50 percent will graduate," Cox says.

"I come here ‘cause it keeps me out of trouble and on the right track," Briana Stringer says.

Briana plans to graduate and wants to be a fashion designer.

In addition to getting the help they need to excel in school, the kids also have fun, too.

"It's a great place to hang out with friends, enjoy company without getting in trouble," says Sierra Willis.

"My first goal is to get through high school, then go to Salt Lake Community College for two years and transfer to the U," Freeman says.

That is exactly what advisers at the Boys and Girls Clubs want to hear the kids say.

The club in Murray is one of only 11 across the country that received the grant. During the school year, the club helps about 170 kids from all over the Salt Lake Valley.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield

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