Community Partner Profile: Simmons College and the Tobin Community Center,Mission Hill School/John F. Kennedy Elementary School, and Girls Preparing to Succeed

My Year of VISTA Service

As the current MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA in the Scott/Ross Center at Simmons College, my work focuses on three main efforts that include: building the leadership skills of the student leaders &volunteers, improving their training experience, and building a sustainable tracking, assessment, and evaluation structure system for the programs.

With our student-led programs I am able to work on a daily basis with our student leaders and volunteers. Together we are able to implement and facilitate our Center’s after-school tutoring and mentoring programs. My work also includes working directly with my 3 primary community partners to strengthen our partnerships to benefit and achieve our after-school programs’ goals.

Tobin Community Center

History of partnership with the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service:

The Tobin Community Center (TCC) is a provider of social, educational, recreational and cultural activities for the residents of Mission Hill. The Scott/Ross Center at Simmons College has established a direct partnership with the Tobin Community Center over past years via service-learning courses and other collaborations with programs such as Mission Safe that are housed within the TCC.

My work as a VISTA:

As a VISTA my role in the partnership between the Scott/Ross Center and Tobin Community Center is to help oversee the facilitation and implementation of a new after-school tutoring program known as Education Sparks. Education Sparks is a student-led 1:1 tutoring program that works with youth in grades 3-5. Sessions are held from 3-5pm every Monday-Thursday at the TCC. Throughout the semester the VISTA holds bi-weekly meetings with the program’s student leaders, at least two site visits and regular check-ins with the on-site program contact at TCC. Additionally the VISTA works closely with the community partner’s on-site contact in implementing tracking, assessment and evaluation materials. Through the partnership with the Tobin Community Center Simmons College is providing community youth with tutors who are able to give them 1:1 attention to increase their academic skills and create mentoring relationships as well as leveraging other campus resources to create better academic enrichment activities for the community youth. Additionally this Spring Semester I am working with a Physical Therapy class and assisting them with their “Simmons-Goes-Fit” service-learning project that will be based out of the Tobin to help promote healthy lifestyles among youth.

Learn more about the TCC here:

Mission Hill School/John F. Kennedy Elementary School

History of partnership with the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service:

As of 2011, the Scott/Ross Center began its partnership with the Mission Hill Elementary School. At the time the elementary school was located within walking distance from Simmons College within the surrounding Mission Hill neighborhood. During the 2011-2012 academic year, 4 student-led programs were housed here. As of this year one remains at Mission Hill Elementary School which is now located in Jamaica Plains.

My work as a VISTA:

This year, the Education Sparks program runs Monday-Friday from 3:30-5:30pm; on Monday and Wednesday Mission Hill students receive 1:1 academic enrichment and tutoring from the Simmons students who make up this student-led program. The America Learns program that works with youth grades 1-4, was also held at Mission Hill Elementary last year; though this year the location has changed, the program is still in existence and is now serving the youth at the JFK Elementary school in Jamaica Plain. I work closely with both after-school academic enrichment programs. Throughout the semester I hold bi-weekly meetings with the student leaders, facilitate site visits throughout the semester and implement tracking & evaluation pieces with on-site program contacts at both Mission Hill School and JFK Elementary.

Learn more about the Mission Hill School/JFK Elementary here:

Girls Preparing to Succeed

History of partnership with the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service:

The Scott/Ross Center’s own Girls Preparing to Succeed Program (GPS) was founded by a Simmons alum and focuses on positive self-esteem, goal-setting, and skills necessary for academic and work success.  Though the need for this type of program is evident, over the past few years GPS has collaborated with local community organizations but still has yet to find a “home.”

My work as a VISTA:

At the start of this academic year I worked closely with the Thomas Johnson Community Center’s Smart from the Start program. The S/RC first connected with Smart from the Start during 2012’s Boston Immersion Alternative Spring Break. Smart from the Start is located in the Mission Hill neighborhood and works to break the cycles of chronic school underachievement and generational poverty. Unfortunately, the direct partnership with Smart from the Start ended by this past November; however high school aged women from the center still remain participants in the GPS program. I continue to work closely with the GPS student leaders and volunteers both in setting up program materials and sessions but also in outreach and promotional efforts. During the Fall 2012 semester I was able to set-up multiple outreach events at local community centers and high schools. The goal for Spring 2013 is to have a set number of participants within the GPS program.


Kate Loughlin


Simmons College

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