marianist.com/donate • 17 collaborate with high schools, such as St. Mary’s, to provide a quality academic education, scholarships and tuition assistance to boys from low-income families. These students, in turn, are required to tutor at their former elementary schools and are paid a small stipend for their efforts. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Mike. “The schools benefit from these young men giving back. Plus, it’s a positive thing for our MUSP students, too.” Partnering with ACCESS is “in keeping with our mission,” says Marianist Brother Tom Giardino, assistant for education for the Marianist Province. “MUSP helps our students see that people of faith care about them, and, by tutoring, they learn how to care for younger students, too,” he says. A team of champions MUSP at each participating school offers something special, but all four have adult mentors advising the students. “For us, that person is Haley Henricks,” says Mike. Haley, a 20-year veteran of St. Mary’s faculty and full-time English teacher, oversaw the rollout of MUSP. Unlike a teacher-student relationship, her role is more like a coach-player in which students are encouraged to be part of an academic team. Besides creating an atmosphere that builds self- confidence, “the group becomes a kind of unified force,” says Haley. “We work as a team to get home- work done.” For many, getting homework done outside of school is a big challenge. Last spring, MUSP students spent time reflecting on the program and what they had learned so far. “Without this program, I wouldn’t be doing so well in school,” says Sebastian, the eldest of seven. “It’s tough to focus at home.” Eli Cruz, a fellow MUSP participant who emigrated from Mexico with his family four years ago, says the program has helped him stay on task. “I don’t get distracted so easily,” says Eli. “When I’m studying with other MUSP students, we help each other learn. My English definitely has improved. If you teach it, you learn it.” How the program works During the first semester, MUSP participants at St. Mary’s meet twice a week on campus with their study group. The second semester gets busier as they add elementary school tutoring to their busy schedules that also include academics, family responsibilities and athletics. Despite the whirlwind, MUSP’s blend of cama- raderie and accountability keeps the students grounded. Plus, they earn money for their efforts. For tutoring, the MUSP program pays them $10 an hour, of which $5 goes to them, and $5 goes toward their tuition. On average, each MUSP student pays about $1,200 to $2,000 in tuition each year. “This might seem a small amount, but any amount can be a real sacrifice for these families,” says Mike. “This takes a weight off the students’ shoulders and helps their parents, too.” Eli Cruz during a tutoring session with a student at St. Cecilia’s Catholic School and Academy in St. Louis