The Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC) AmeriCorps*VISTA program finds its strength in the meaningful and intentional campus-community partnerships. The intricate process of selecting the community partner and developing a plan to utilize the VISTA is a vital step in the organizational model. My partnership between Lesley University and Tutoring Plus has engaged me as a liaison between the two entities with the goal of creating an even stronger and more sustainable relationship than what had existed before my arrival.
My community partner Tutoring Plus, has opened my eyes to many of the educational discrepancies in Cambridge and what is being done to create opportunities and an equal playing field for all students. Tutoring Plus is a one-on-one tutoring and mentoring organization based in Area IV of Cambridge. They support students from 4th grade to 12th grade helping to develop study skills, critical thinking, and meaningful relationships. For fifty years Tutoring Plus has been an instrumental organization in the community and is well regarded for hosting over 200 students and changing the lives of the individuals it impacts.
Although the formal partnership between Lesley and Tutoring Plus is new, the two organizations have been working together for years. Lesley has served Tutoring Plus as tutors and community work study students as well as helped with fundraising. Another unique component of the partnership has been through a service- learning course called Girls, Media, and You. Within this course Lesley students develop lessons and a curriculum for teenage girls from the Tutoring Plus community. These teens travel to Lesley for eight weeks and learn about self-esteem and the media. Wonderful relationships are formed between the college students and girls; this course has proved to be an important part of the Lesley curriculum.
As the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA hired to work specifically to continue cultivating this relationship, I have been focusing my energy on sustaining the partnership as well as adding new initiatives. Over the past three months I have worked specifically with tutor and site coordinator recruitment. Today we have about thirty students from Lesley that are involved on a regular basis with Tutoring Plus. The number has continued to grow and students that I have interacted with have expressed their enjoyment in connecting with the organization and the students they work with. Beyond the recruitment efforts, I have put a lot of my energy into a fairly new Tutoring Plus initiative, 119 After Dark, a teen drop-in center for 13-19 year olds in the community. The program is a collaboration between three local non-profits: Tutoring Plus, The Community Art Center, and the Boys and Girls Club. My job has been focused on recruiting student groups to lead programs at the drop-in center for the teens they serve. Although we have faced minor setbacks with the start date of the program being pushed back, I am looking forward to taking at least two Lesley clubs to the center during November. I have also recruited students who will lead building the relationships with the teens so they feel comfortable with Lesley groups coming in to lead programs. Overall I hope that the teens of the Area IV neighborhood in Cambridge enjoy working with college students, learning new skills and developing meaningful relationships.
The campus-community partnership initiative of the MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA Program is a very special component of the project and I have been lucky to be paired with a campus and community organization that honors this mission and wants the partnership to only grow stronger. Tutoring Plus is an amazing organization that is whole heartedly devoted to its mission of providing educational, social and emotional support to students in the area. I am proud to be a part of their work and to continue to build sustainable relationships.
Lesley University in partnership with Tutoring Plus