The Welcome Table creates a safe space for diverse community stakeholders to form healthy relationships via open, honest communication. Now in more than a dozen communities in Mississippi and beyond, it is one of the Winter Institute’s signature programs, garnering attention and partnerships from reconciliation organizations as far away Northern Ireland and South Africa.
Winter Institute Community Partners in Mississippi
- Calhoun County
- Delta State University
- Holly Springs
- Moss Point
- New Orleans
- University of Mississippi
- West Point
From July 8-26, 2013, the Choice Program in Philadelphia taught 122 youth, kindergarten through sixth grade, math skills, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Started in 2011, Choice is a teen mentoring summer program that grew out of the Neshoba Youth Coalition–NYC teens mentor the younger children. In the three years of the Choice Program, the students, from Philadelphia and Neshoba County schools, have seen their test scores improve dramatically; program coordinators are awaiting official test that support the improvements cited by school administrators.
In March 2013, Winter Institute staff hosted 120 young men from three Mississippi communities (West Point, Canton, and Philadelphia) at Camp Dixon, outside Philadelphia, Miss., for four days, during which they learned about responsibility to their communities. The boys, ages 8-18, were mentored by older African-American role models, such as Josh Moore, a Mississippi State graduate who now plays for the Green Bay Packers.
Tupelo resident Warner King, who came through the Summer Youth Institute in 2012, held the first session of G.I.R.L.Y. camp, the project she developed at SYI, during summer 2013. G.I.R.L.Y. (Girls In Reality Love Yourself) helps third- and fourth-grade girls in Tupelo grow their self-esteem.
From May to July, 2013, Winter Institute Welcome Table staff began work in Charleston, Miss., and on the Gulf Coast. Initial retreats were hailed as great successes.