Program Provides Private School Scholarships For Low Income Students

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(Memphis) If smaller classroom size and individualized learning are keys to success in school, students at Brinkley Heights Urban Academy are on the right track.

"We are taking children that are really at high risk of dropping out of school and taking those very same kids and working with them and turning them into successful students who will go on to college." says Brinkley Heights Pastor and Principal Tim Cox.

They are getting a private school education, something that would have been out of reach financially for most of them, if not for a scholarship called MOST, Memphis Opportunity Scholarship Trust.

It is a privately funded program offering need based scholarships to low-income families, helping them pay tuition for their children at private and parochial schools.

"A private education has continued to go up in cost. You can see it at the collegiate level, the elementary, the high school level. It's across the board. So it's well out of reach for a number of people," says Scott Hennessey.

Hennessey sits on the board of MOST, which is funded by businesses and private citizens.

They put up money to provide the scholarships.

Since 1998 some 3,000 students have received more than 13-million dollars.

Ninety-percent of those students graduate from high school and go on to college.

"They are going on, not only to college, but on to being leaders in their classes and in the community," says Hennessey.

The scholarships, which start as early as Pre-K, average 1500 a year.

Kristy Russell's two children are able to attend Brinkley Heights Academy because of MOST. It covers a large part of their $5,600 a year tuition, "An adequate good education should be afforded to each child."

As a parent, Russell is also required to contribute some funds and participate in her child's education.

"We have a routine doing homework and read everyday. I meet with the teachers. My son started in Pre-K, he was reading by the age of 4. My daughter she is at the top of her class and I strongly believe that is due to the one-on-one that the teachers give the students," says Russell. "By my children receiving the MOST Scholarship, I am able to pursue my education as well. I am in grad-school pursuing my education degree."

"As a business I know how important education is to the local community. This is gonna pay dividends for generations to come," says Hennessey.

MOST organizers say they are about giving families a choice.

Parents choose any private or parochial school they feel best fits their child and MOST pays that school.

To find out how to apply or make a donation,  go to