WS/FCS approves $1.4 million contract with Action4Equity

WS/FCS approves $1.4 million contract with Action4Equity
December 15
14:33 2021

To combat the recent rise in violence, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has approved a $1.4 million contract with Action4Equity to provide mentors for 200 students at Paisley IB Magnet School, Philo-Hill Middle School, and Parkland and Reynolds High Schools. 

Before the motion was unanimously approved by the board last week, Superintendent Tricia McManus gave a presentation on the mentoring program. McManus explained that the district will use COVID relief money to fund the pilot program and how the $1.4 million will be used. 

Funding will cover costs for five full-time mentors, a director who will provide support to mentors and serve as a liaison to the schools and district, a community liaison, and a “whole child health coordinator,” who will coordinate and manage referrals. Cost for student/family outings, student/mentor quarterly retreats and training are also included. 

The training is aligned with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Gang Model, which is based on five core strategies: community engagement, education training and employment programs, social intervention, suppression through community policing, and organizational change and development. 

McManus said she’s excited about the partnership with Action4Equity and its partners. She said the mentoring program is unlike anything she’s ever seen.

“I have been an educator for over 30 years … I’ve brought forth many contracts to boards of education,” McManus continued. “I’ve brought forth literacy contracts and working with companies who are going to do so many different things in districts and I’m always excited for the work, but I am most excited, honestly today, for this body of work, because what we’re describing here today is very different from traditional programming.”

The mentors will work with students in school, in the community, and with their families to create a real connection with students. Mentors will be contracted through local grassroots organizations Enough is Enough and New Life/Nuevo Vida. Both organizations are known for their work in the community helping at-risk youth.

Other local non-profits, community groups, and organizations joining the effort include: Triad Restorative Justice, Center for Trauma Informed Communities, Love Out Loud, Everytown for Gun Safety, The Feelings Company, Nourishing Forsyth, My Brother’s/My Sister’s Keeper of Winston-Salem, TURN, Lit City, Parenting Path, and the Forsyth County Association of Educators (FCAE). 

“The idea of having grassroots organizations that are already in the communities, that know our children and know their families, are going to be back-and-forth between school and home. You heard from some of our educators and they cannot do that, ” McManus said. “This is a need and I have not seen a community like this that has come forward and said we want to be a part of the solution to stop violence in our schools, to stop violence in our community, to make our schools safe, and allow teachers to teach and students to learn.” 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, dozens of concerned citizens, parents and teachers spoke in support of Action4Equity and the mentoring program. Jacob McElhany, a 7th grade teacher at Paisley, said, “A simple lack of dedicated bodies is our largest problem.”

“Having local leaders and people from the community step in would be a major asset to staff and students,” McElhany said. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive.”

FCAE President Val Young said right now teachers and young people in our community are in dire need of help.

“Right now we’re in grave need of support from our community. Our children are suffering and we don’t have the hands or the manpower to help them,” Young continued. “We have to solve these problems and they can’t be solved by policing them, they have to be solved by us having relationships with our children. Our children are not going to tell us what’s wrong with them if they don’t know that we love them. We have to love them enough to fund this pilot program … and not only fund this program, but make a way for this program to expand to every school in our district.” 

McManus said she is confident that the mentoring program will result in a reduction of violence on school grounds, less suspensions, less office referrals, improved attendance and improve school/home community relations. 

“This is going to work, I have zero doubt,” said McManus when discussing the partnership with Action4Equity. “I have too much respect for our district, our students, our staff, our community. I’m not going to bring something forward that I don’t feel 100% confident will work.” 

Students will begin meeting with mentors in January and will continue to meet through the start of the 2022-2023 school year. 

For more information on Action4Equity, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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