Tutoring and mentoring program AGCAO continues to help kids in need

Published 9:40 am Friday, December 1, 2023

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After nearly a decade of service, a LaGrange City Councilman’s non-profit tutoring program is still going strong, helping countless children over the years.

The non-profit group Adaptive Growth and Cultural Advancement Organization (AGCAO) focuses on providing a safe place for kids to go after school twice a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, providing homework help to those kids who may not be able to receive help at home.

LaGrange Councilman Leon Childs said he started the tutoring program about nine years ago with Chauncey Bradford, Travis Carter, Tiffany King and his wife Porsha.

“We saw a heavy need in the community and we wanted to alleviate some of the things that the parents were going through,” Childs said.

Childs said there are three reasons that kids typically end up needing tutoring, and mentoring, which he said go hand in hand.

Some parents just don’t know how to help, which Childs said he understands the difficulty because even with a college degree, things are taught differently now. Some parents can’t because they have to work and some parents are not around or just don’t care, he said.

“We want to be an organization that can alleviate some of that strain and pressure on kids and show them they have an outlet and they have someone that will fill in the gap when their parents are not there,” Childs said.

Typically when kids come to AGCAO, the tutors help them with their homework first and then move on to things that they are struggling with.’

“When the kids come in, the first thing we’re going to do is that we’re going to take care of the homework,” Childs said. “We concentrate on the homework first, and then we will concentrate on the areas that they’re having the most difficult time in, which is reading, reading and math.”

Childs said they have a wide range of kids needing help with their schoolwork. He said they get started with kids in pre-K and have had students as old as 17 years old.

The crew also helps feed the kids with a snack after a hard day of school. Whether it’s juice, a granola bar, a pack of crackers or just a Powerade, the kids need something to help them concentrate after an eight or nine-hour day at school, Childs said.

Childs said he and a few others started the program about 10 years ago after seeing the need and they had generous support to get started.

“Before I became a city councilman, the City of LaGrange was very, very gracious to help with funding. Now mainly our funding comes from [donors]. Even when the city was providing funding Dr. Jimmy McCamey, Mr. Jerome Alford, the LaGrange Housing Authority and just different entities and different small businesses have supported the program,” Childs said.

The program currently operates out of a classroom in the rear of the HOPE Academy. 

“The Troup County School System, they let me use his building free of charge, Childs said. “They also let me have events here too, like a boy’s lock-in or mentoring events. They’ve been totally awesome.”

“We’ve been doing this since 2014, so about 10 years,” Childs said. “We started at the William Griggs Recreation Center and then we went to the Mike Daniel Recreation Center, so we were doing one day at Griggs and one day at Mike Daniel.”

Childs said the problem with the dual locations was packing everything to go multiple times a week, so he prayed for their own more permanent location.

“Sure enough, God opened a door with the school system. They let us use this module home back here. This is our fourth year here,” he said.

Porsha said many of the founders have fallen away from the program over time because of life issues but she and Leon have kept it alive. 

Not only do the kids in the program get the support they need, but the program is rewarding to the tutors too.

“The program is well needed in the community, especially in spatial and disparities communities with disparities, Serving kids in underprivileged areas is rewarding,” said tutor Mikquez Berry. “We’ve had a variety of kids with behavior issues come in and now they’re getting Student of the Month. Kids come in failing and now they’re at least passing or sometimes overachieving. That’s rewarding, seeing where they started from, where they are now.”

Berry said tutoring off and on with the program since last summer. Berry is majoring in Paralegal Law at the University of Cincinnati. He said he plans to finish up next year.

Younger students also help tutor with the program. Troup High Junior Reagan Godfrey also said she gets a lot out of the program helping kids improve their grades.

Godfrey noted that she helped one young man who consistently came in on Wednesdays and Thursdays to raise his grade in a class from a 74 to an 85.