- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A tutoring program for St. Louis city and county public school students created by a local alderman and prominent Ferguson protester will receive $500,000 in federal money to expand its efforts.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced the federal grant to The North Campus on Thursday at a University of Missouri-St. Louis news conference, saying it will allow the program to provide math and science tutoring to an additional 350 low-income students.

The program is overseen by St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who’s been a visible figure at the Ferguson police shooting protests. His public profile has grown dramatically since the early August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown due to his prolific Twitter updates.

Nixon and French were joined by state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, another vocal critic of police crowd control tactics after the fatal shooting of the unarmed Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. All three of the elected officials are Democrats.

Nixon said the money will come from the federal Department of Social Services through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Volunteer tutors will be enlisted from the University of Missouri branch campus, which is located just a few miles from Ferguson.

“Too many students are still growing up without seeing a clear path to academic achievement and economic independence,” Nixon said. “This is a smart investment in our kids that will have a huge return for families in this community and the economy of this region.”

A St. Louis County grand jury is reviewing Wilson’s shooting of Brown to determine if Wilson, who is white, used excessive force. French and other protest organizers have attributed much of the community anger to limited economic and educational opportunities in north St. Louis and the neighboring parts of St. Louis County known as North County, where residents are predominantly black.

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier at http://twitter.com/azagier

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