Tupelo School District and City of Tupelo

Duration of partnership: 3.5 years
Impacts 7,500 students
“The Tupelo Spirit” is a phrase used to describe the passionate homegrown community development of Tupelo, and in recent years the city has taken bold steps to redefine this distinctive characteristic. Since 2009 when Mayor Jack Reed Jr. took office, the district has enjoyed a unique partnership with the City of Tupelo that has become stronger each year, with a focus on safety, health, and literacy.
Safety is highlighted through "Safe Routes to Schools," which will establish sidewalks and safer pedestrian routes around densely populated school zones. Health is highlighted through the Mayor’s Healthy Task Force, which includes the "Safe Splash" swimming program for all second graders; and Shared Use Agreements to open school playgrounds, gyms and other facilities in neighborhoods to increase accessibility of recreational resources. Literacy is highlighted through the Mayor’s Education Task Force, which includes Scholastic’s book gift program and "Read and Rise" program to encourage a love of reading among young children and their families.
Phase I of "Safe Routes to Schools" will install sidewalks around Pierce Street Elementary and Thomas Street Elementary to encourage walking and biking in a safe pedestrian environment. The "Safe Splash" swimming program has increased community awareness of water safety, with 1,400 second graders participating since 2009. The City of Tupelo also has committed $40,000 for swimming instructor salaries, and grant funds are being used to provide swimming caps, fins, kick boards and special floor platforms for young swimmers. Also, construction has begun on the city's new  $11 million aquatic center. Thanks to the Scholastic book donation program, 7,500 books have been distributed to students, and five parent workshops have been conducted for  the "Read and Rise" program to promote a love of reading at home.