THENEED_MeridianMS.jpg
THENEED_MeridianMS.jpg

The LEAD Center


Meridian, Mississippi (population approximately 41,000) is located in east central Mississippi, 90 miles from the state capital Jackson, and roughly 10 miles from the Alabama state line. 

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The LEAD Center


Meridian, Mississippi (population approximately 41,000) is located in east central Mississippi, 90 miles from the state capital Jackson, and roughly 10 miles from the Alabama state line. 

The Need

Our Freedom Fellows represent all three of Meridian's public middle schools and Meridian High School.  We also serve students from Lauderdale County, representing Southeast schools, Northeast schools, and West Lauderdale. We currently serve students in grades 6th - 12th. 

Despite the tremendous efforts made by community members and the Meridian Public Schools, finding a pathway to empowered choices in Meridian can be difficult for even our most hard-working and dedicated students.   

According to the most recent Census data:

  • Nearly 20% of families in Meridian live below the poverty line

  • Of those families, 41% of those are single mother homes

  • Approximately 34% of children in Meridian are living in poverty

Women in Meridian face additional obstacles.  In a state where teen pregnancy is at 27%, and only 33% of teen mothers receive their high school diplomas, young women in Meridian need access to opportunities and education.  The Freedom Project will provide that, and more.


The Achievement Gap

The Achievement Gap is an opportunity gap, and it is real in Meridian. 

According to the Mississippi Department of Education for Meridian Public Schools' class of 2014: 

  • The graduation rate was 62.5%

  • The drop out rate was 25.9%

The Meridian Public School District is making incredible progress with Meridian students and we are fortunate to have such a strong partnership with their leadership. The Meridian Freedom Project expands the hard work of the teachers, parents, and administrators to after school, Saturdays, and summer, helping to ensure our students return to school each day focused, ready, and prepared to learn. We believe to change this reality for our students, it takes our community partnering with the schools.

We are dedicated to providing rigorous core academic support that takes many shapes throughout the school year and summer. We do this not only to empower our students to be successful in the classroom each day, but also for their futures.