North Carolinians hope church effort will help struggling students

Posted: Friday, January 09, 2004

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) To help close the racial achievement gap among public school students, an after school program launched this week is turning to a proven source of empowerment for the black community: the church.

Organizers hope the federally funded after-school program at Fisher Memorial United Holy Church, where students will feel comfortable and supported by pastors and congregants, will help in ways traditional programs have not.

The program serves third- through eighth-grade students who perform below grade level. Help in math, reading, test-taking skills and computer literacy is offered by certified public school teachers from Durham and tutors from North Carolina Central University.

Rules forbid teaching the students about Christianity or other faiths, and crosses and other religious symbols have been removed from the classroom.

On Jan. 26, a similar program opens at Northside Baptist Church, near Duke University.

Both sites are funded with $293,000 in federal money per year for four years.

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