Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Chance to Dream Tutoring Program Helps Students Succeed in School and Life

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Chance to Dream Tutoring Program Helps Students Succeed in School and Life

Article excerpt

Growing up in the East Hills, Chivonne Everette never dreamed beyond Pittsburgh. "I thought I'd graduate, go to college and be stuck here," she said.

That is until 1996 when she sought out a developing student assistance program as a sophomore at Schenley High School. Everette went for help with math. She got that and more: a new vision of her future.

Everette, now 24, works as a contract specialist with NASA in Houston. Soon she will head to Los Angeles to begin a new position with the space agency.

She gives much of the credit to the PACE Opportunities Program or POP, which has guided Pittsburgh students to college and productive lives since it started eight years ago.

"The people at POP were strong and positive," said Everette. "They were encouraging and inspired."

Today, POP works with 90 students and is funded with $200,000 in federal, county and private grants. In recent years, funding woes have hit the organization, forcing it to scale back on staff and recruitment.

Still, the students come. Most hear about the program through word of mouth, and they show up eager to improve their grades and prepare for life beyond the SATs and band.

The program was once free, and there is still no charge for families that cannot afford the service. For families that can, it costs $35 a month. The program provides students with after-school tutoring in math, English, chemistry and foreign language, and a staff member who works hard to meet their needs.

"We had a student who was studying Japanese and he needed some help," said Brian Hankins, director and creator of the program. "So, we had to go find him help."

A series of social skills workshops features lessons in etiquette, finances and time management. There are also information sessions on topics such as date rape. …

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