MHC Awarded Commonwealth Corps Grant

Posted: August 20, 2008

Mount Holyoke's Community-Based Learning Program (CBL) is among the inaugural recipients of funding under Governor Deval Patrick's new Commonwealth Corps grant program. An award of $40,200 will support the creation of a 12-member student volunteer corps to support the educational achievement of Latino students in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

MHC will work jointly with Holyoke Community College's Pathways program the Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE) partnership, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Student Bridges program on recruitment, training, orientation, and placement activities in the Holyoke public schools. The Mount Holyoke CBL will oversee the program and serve as sponsor of the corps, which will be comprised of four student volunteers from each of the three colleges.

Corps members will provide college awareness programming for Holyoke students, connecting them to the Five College Consortium and Holyoke Community College campuses, students, faculty, and staff through college fairs, workshops, and campus visits, in addition to direct tutoring and mentoring through in-school and after school programs.

"There's a critical need for support in both Holyoke and Massachusetts for higher educational achievement and college access for low-income, underrrepresented students," said Alan Bloomgarden, CBL coordinator and Commonwealth Corps project director. "With the support of this grant for our partnership, we can mobilize volunteers and institutional assets to help the public school system improve student performance, increase college awareness, and enhance the representation of Latino and low-income students in the college pipeline.

"We hope our program will exemplify what's possible when several college campuses work together to respond to the pressing educational challenges and opportunities of a local community."

The local Commonwealth Corps project is among 36 public and nonprofit programs receiving $2,384,660 in grant funding. Proposed by Patrick in 2007, the mission of the Commonwealth Corps is to engage state residents of all ages and backgrounds in direct service to rebuild communities and address their unmet needs. Commonwealth Corps will provide opportunities for skill building and leadership development and will encourage and enhance a lifelong civic vocation for its members.

"I am delighted to announce these awards as we work to implement Commonwealth Corps and call individuals to service to help make a real difference in communities across Massachusetts," said Patrick. "We have a long history of service in the Commonwealth and I am pleased that the Commonwealth Corps has become the next chapter in that history."

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on community service and volunteerism, has been selected to administer the Commonwealth Corps grants. The Commonwealth Corps Commission, in partnership with the MSA, made final recommendations on funding to the governor based on recommendations and input from 80 volunteer community reviewers from a variety of backgrounds.

The Community-Based Learning Program is part of Mount Holyoke's Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts.

Related Links: