AT&T donates 30 laptops to after-school program and inspires additional city funding

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It takes a village

Drive-To-Thrive is a non-profit youth mentorship program created to support at-risk youth who are struggling academically or behaviorally. The fledgling program is currently in its second term and has grown from just two students to more than 16.

Drive-To-Thrive sponsored several field trips for students during the summer break (photo courtesy of Fateca Grant).

“I really had no idea we would be here at this stage of our program where we have literally quadrupled the number of children we support in addition to having the manpower to successfully implement our services fully and effectively, but here we are; that’s exactly what we do,” said Executive Director Fateca Grant.

Grant said she took a step back from teaching in the school district and felt compelled to start this program after focusing on her own spiritual growth. Grant dedicated her life to raising children, and when she met her counterpart, Ernest Galloway, all the pieces began to fall into place.

Galloway is a humble man who has worked with disadvantaged youth in Vicksburg for decades, primarily through sports. Both Galloway and Grant say they feel God has brought them together to create a source of opportunity for children who struggle in school or have difficult home lives.

“We want to help these kids succeed, and that obviously includes academics, but it’s so much more than that,” Grant said. “I want each of my children to know that they are loved, that they have support for whatever they are going through or going through a difficult time and that in the end no matter what . , we care. We care.

VPD officers visited Drive-To-Thrive and spoke to students about civic duty (photo courtesy of Fateca Grant).

Thanks to Grant’s training and Galloway’s experience working with legislators and business leaders, as well as their shared belief that early intervention and support can change the lives of future generations, the duo has created a program that meets all types of needs: academic, spiritual, social, physical and mental.

Grant says the program’s growth and success is in large part due to the collaborations, partnerships and support of community leaders and businesses who believe in the Drive-To-Thrive mission of cultivating a brighter future for our youth. The Warren County Board of Supervisors awarded a grant of $4,000 and the Council of Mayor and Aldermen awarded an additional $2,500. The Salvation Army has been a big supporter of the program, lending use of their facilities two days a week as well as access to their van to help with transportation. United Way of West Central Mississippi donated materials for reading fluency, and Americorps NCCC provided a team of enthusiastic young mentors and tutors.

Together, all mobilized around a common cause, they had a real impact on the students of the program. Galloway and Grant say some students have moved up an entire grade level in their reading fluency since joining Drive-To-Thrive.

The digital divide

The latest support for Drive-To-Thrive comes from AT&T and Human IT, who graciously donated 30 laptops to the program.

“Now we can tap into the virtual learning programs that students use in schools and integrate them into our after-school program,” Galloway said.

“It’s huge,” Grant said. “Not all students have a computer with Internet at home. When your homework is online, having access to it is essential. To be able to help our children and give them the support they need academically is nothing short of monumental. »

Michael Walker, head of AT&T Mississippi, shows off new Dell laptops donated to Drive-To-Thrive (photo by Kelley Branch).

“We are continually working to help bridge the digital divide by expanding our fiber footprint and providing super-fast Internet that keeps residents and businesses connected,” said AT&T Mississippi Director Mike Walker. “We are committed to investing in the modern, high-speed network infrastructure needed in today’s economy, and we are also committed to supporting community organizations such as Drive-To-Thrive that help strengthen our communities. and reduce the digital divide. »

“While access to broadband services has expanded dramatically in recent years, there are many barriers to subscribing to these services and it is very encouraging to see AT&T and the private sector continuing their work to remove these obstacles and support our youth and Drive-To-Thrive efforts,” said Mayor George Flaggs, Jr.

Mayor Flaggs spoke to Earnest Galloway and everyone in attendance about his commitment to education (photo by Kelley Branch).

Mayor Flaggs was so inspired by the program’s success and community support that he pledged an additional $2,500 grant from the City of Vicksburg at the ceremony.

“That’s what it’s all about, we’re calling on each other so we can invest in our kids,” Mayor Flaggs said. “We are going to be better than any other city and you know why? Because we are going to invest in our children, invest in our future. He’s invested in donating those computers, and I want to give you another $2,500 so you can connect those computers to the Internet and be able to do what you need to do. Let me tell you, having a father who couldn’t read and write… I will always be committed to education.

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