Community Partner Spotlight: Springfield Housing Authority
For about a year now, Western New England University’s Center for Civic Engagement has partnered with the Springfield Housing Authority’s (SHA) Department of Resident Services. This partnership connects university students with adults working on their GED high school equivalencies. Specifically the Center for Civic Engagement is working with the staff at the Deborah Barton Community Center at the Sullivan development who provide families with access to resources to improve their education, job prospects and living situations. Clients of the Deborah Barton Community Center may be hoping to improve their English, earn a GED so that they can attend college or become more job-ready.
Lidya Rivera, the grants coordinator at the community center, supervises my work as a MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA and originally helped found the partnership with my supervisor at Western New England, Koni Denham. Lidya has expanded the GED program this year by adding another site for GED classes at a different time, which increases the number of GED students the program can serve, and makes it more accessible to students who live closer to downtown.
My role at the SHA is to recruit, train and support college student tutors working with the GED classes at both sites. Western New England students provide valuable support to the SHA GED class by tutoring adult GED students one-on-one. This tutoring occurs either when they first enter the GED class, or when they are making final preparations to take the test. This is crucial because GED students enter the class at a wide range of academic levels: some may have gone no further than the 9th grade, while some may have come close to graduating high school. This can make it difficult for the GED teacher to meet all of the students in the class where they are at academically.
This program is also a great opportunity for Western New England students to work with adults. Many of our other programs at the Center for Civic Engagement involve tutoring or working with children, and students seem drawn to working with children. However, for those students interested in working with adults, this program allows them to provide a resource to a whole family rather than one child. By passing the GED, parents become better able to assist their children with their homework and can also model the importance of education to gain access to better jobs and higher education. Western New England students also stand to gain from learning about the experiences of adults on public assistance in a way they may not when working with children.
More information about the Department of Resident Services at the Springfield Housing Authority can be found at their website: http://shamass.org/services.php
Western New England University in partnership with the Springfield Housing Authority