Students, Dixon to meet

Hunger strikers demand that city fund mentor program

June 03, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun reporter

Mayor Sheila Dixon will meet tomorrow with students from the Algebra Project, a mentoring group whose members have been staging a hunger strike since Friday to win city funding for a program they say would provide about 1,000 jobs to young people.

Dixon said last night that she agreed to meet with the students to discuss ways to find outside funding for Peer to Peer Enterprises, but that she will not pledge the $3 million in city money the students are demanding. The 13 students participating in the strike say they will not eat solid food until Dixon pays to expand the program.

As for the hunger strike, Dixon said, "That's their choice. But I have some ideas I'm willing to try and work with them on."

The students staged a protest yesterday evening on the steps of the War Memorial Building, attracting about 50 onlookers.

Charles Waters, 16, a junior at City College, said the students will continue on a diet of water and fruit and vegetable shakes, despite Dixon's plans to meet with them. Waters said he has lost 15 pounds.

"We're waiting for her to sign over the $3 million," Waters said.

Last week, a City Council committee rejected a proposal to use interest from the city's "rainy day fund" to finance Peer to Peer. Dixon has steadfastly opposed the proposal, arguing that she has placed more than $14.5 million in the budget for about a dozen youth programs, including some involving Peer to Peer.

Students want the money for an investment fund that would expand Peer-to-Peer, which funds 20 youth mentoring programs.

Last month, about 30 students demanding the $3 million slept outside for two nights on the lawn in front of City Hall.

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