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Now in its ninth year, Bulldogs Matter is an after-school academic and enrichment program at Alexander Graham (AG) Middle School with the mission to improve the academic, emotional, and social readiness for students entering high school. This partnership between CrossRoads Corporation, AG Middle School, and community volunteers aims to close the achievement gap and decrease the dropout rate among at-risk students. Although Bulldogs Matter is open to all eligible students at AG, a majority of the student participants live in the Grier Heights neighborhood. The program serves 72 students who meet four afternoons per week, Monday through Thursday during the school year. It provides various flexible discipleship opportunities for high school students who may serve in multiple capacities including teacher assistants, homework helpers, mentors, and chaperones for field trips. Academic mentors and tutors provide consistent, trustworthy one-on-one relationships with students as they learn general academic accountability.

The success of Bulldogs Matter can be seen through its consistent attendance from students and growing popularity. Currently, the program is at capacity with a waiting list. Additionally, positive feedback from the Myers Park High School administration echoes that Bulldogs Matter students enter high school with stronger academic, organizational, and social skills than their peers. This success doesn’t come without its challenges, though. According to Kathleen O’Bannon, Development Director for CrossRoads Corporation, the current community-wide focus on pre-k through elementary education has put a strain on fundraising efforts for programs geared toward older students like Bulldogs Matter. These factors coupled with apathy among some students and some home environments where sports and other activities often supersede academics pose a significant challenge. This is why the support of community partners like The Merancas Foundation, Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina and CrossRoads Corporation is so essential to keep this program thriving and expanding

If you are looking for a challenging, but rewarding, discipleship opportunity, Bulldogs Matter may be just the place for you. Serving with Bulldogs Matter is an excellent opportunity for high school students and adults to mentor younger students and build community. Currently, there is a need for English, Math and Science tutors for the Tuesday tutoring program, as well as Camp Buddies for the summer. Adults are also encouraged to volunteer as bus drivers for transportation to Camp Harrison this summer. Want to get involved? Contact Danyae Person, Director of Education for CrossRoads Corporation at danyae.person@crossroadscorporation.org.