ExPECT membership levels

Teacher/staff - $10

Family/individual - $20

Business - $50

ExPECT's membership drive will be March 19-30 and a rally highlighting Lee County Schools will be March 31 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Food Court at the Mall at Barnes Crossing. Membership applications are available at any Lee County school, or contact Cheryl Scales at 841-9144 or Lynn Keith at 680-1204 for more information.

Suggested hed: ExPECT targets teachers, students in membership campaign

- Since 1989, the nonprofit has awarded more than $232,000 to Lee County Schools.

By Ginny Miller

Daily Journal

TUPELO - Lee County Schools boasts 6,699 students and 550 certified staff. That's more than 7,000 possible members for ExPECT, a grantmaking organization whose current membership is just 2.8 percent of its potential.

"There's only 20 people on the rolls, which is really kind of sad," said Staci Bevill, the nonprofit's vice president and chairman of a two-week membership campaign scheduled for March 19-30, sparked by a March 31 rally at The Mall at Barnes Crossing .

"We just knew we needed new members in a desperate way," said Lynn Keith, co-president of ExPECT along with Bobby Richardson.

ExPECT, or Exceptional Progress in Education through Curriculum and Technology, began in 1989 as a special project of the Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation. Over the years, it's awarded more than $232,000 to teachers in Lee County Schools for things like books, science kits and computers.

The organization does so with help from the United Way of Northeast Mississippi, which on Wednesday allotted ExPECT $15,000.

"Our goal at the end of the day is to fund all those teacher grants that come in, to be able to fund 100 percent of what's asked for," said Keith, who has told Lee County School Board members that ExPECT's low numbers jeopardized its United Way contribution.

"I think overall our volunteers have been very impressed with their progress," said Melinda Tidwell, executive director of the United Way of Northeast Mississippi, referring to recent efforts to revitalize ExPECT. "They have several new fundraising ideas and seem to be generating a lot of interest."

Plans for a membership campaign grew from the group's original idea to sell T-shirts, Bevill said. Each of three levels of membership comes with a custom, colorful T-shirt designed by Oxford Printwear and a bumper sticker.

"Each school also has a really nice banner displayed that states LCS: ExPECTing the best from Lee County Schools,'" Richardson said. "I feel that the membership drive is going to be a success."

Contact Daily Journal education writer Ginny Miller at ginny.miller@djournal.com or 678-1582.

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