Reading, Pa. – Albright College has been awarded a two-year, nearly $90,000 grant from the Wyomissing Foundation to expand the College’s educational partnership to another Reading district school.
The main focus of the collaboration with Northeast Middle is to strengthen student proficiency in science, mathematics and reading, with a focus on increasing support and opportunities for underserved and at-risk students. Albright students will offer tutoring services and will help Northeast’s Environmental Club develop plans for field trips and other activities.
Albright Provost Mary McGee said the expansion will strengthen the “educational pathways for students in Reading, building hope, opportunity and community so that our students, this neighborhood, and Reading might thrive.”
The program, she added, also has the potential to become a national model for K-12-higher education collaboration “for which there is great need today as we seek to better prepare students for college, life-long learning, and the challenges of a dynamically changing world.”
To help facilitate the expansion to Northeast Middle, Albright has been awarded a three-year AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) position. Albright alumna Rachel Lillo of Lansdale, who graduated in May with a degree in psychology, will serve in this role.
Through the Albright-13th and Union Partnership, dozens of Albright students from various majors volunteer annually at the elementary school, providing tutoring and homework help, and mentoring and forging strong connections with the children. Albright students also conduct service learning and research projects at the school, and gain real-world experience. Students from 13th and Union visit Albright’s campus each year, participating in programs in the arts, sciences and humanities.
The hope is to extend some of the programs in place at 13th and Union to Northeast Middle, including tutoring support, providing Spanish translators for parent/teacher conferences, field trips to Albright’s campus, and sporting activities in collaboration with Albright Athletics and teams.
Alex Brown, principal at Northeast Middle, said the partnership will provide his students not only academic support benefits, but valuable relationship building and mentoring as well.
“Middle school students are at an age where success is connected to having multiple positive role models,” said Brown. “The mentoring will provide students with social and emotional tools they will need to be successful in and outside of the classroom.”
Brown also noted that interacting with Albright students, and having access to the College’s facilities, will help the students think more about their post-secondary education options.
That was a main goal of a program last January that saw seventh-graders visit campus to get a taste of college life and an understanding that higher education is within their grasp. Officials hope to continue this program.
Albright previously had a VISTA for its partnership with 13th and Union Elementary. The third and final year of that program recently concluded. But thanks to the Wyomissing Foundation grant, rising Albright senior Casandra Belizaire, a secondary education/English major from Reading, will serve as a part-time student manager to coordinate Albright volunteers for the programs that will continue at 13th & Union, including Ready. Set. READ!, Homework Club, mentoring and field trips to campus. Belizaire has volunteered at 13th and Union for the last three years.
In 2012, the Wyomissing Foundation provided the Albright-13th and Union Partnership with a two-year, $100,000 grant enabling it to expand programming across departments and disciplines.