United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

Posted on August 1, 2016

United Way and Mass Service Alliance to invest over $2M to improve academic outcomes of immigrant students in Salem and Lynn

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U.S. Representative Seth Moulton joined with Justin Rotundo, United Way Americorps team member

 

Salem, MA – United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Massachusetts Service Alliance are investing over $2 million in national competitive funding over the next three years to expand a successful AmeriCorps partnership with Lynn Public Schools that is improving academic outcomes among immigrant students into two schools in Salem during the upcoming school year. Last year, 75% of the participating students in Lynn demonstrated improved academic engagement and over 60% showed increased performance in core academic classes.

U.S. Representative Seth Moulton joined United Way President Michael K. Durkin, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Salem Public Schools Superintendent Margarita Ruiz, Lynn Public Schools Superintendent Catherine Latham and Massachusetts Service Alliance CEO Emily Haber for the announcement of the expanded partnership, which aims to improve academic engagement and reduce the school dropout rate among immigrant students in Lynn and Salem.

“I firmly believe that every American should have the opportunity to serve his or her country,” said Moulton. “This investment from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and United Way will go a long way in ensuring that those within our community have the opportunity to give back to students and families in Lynn and Salem. I am proud of those who serve for making both the Sixth District and our country stronger.”

A team of 25 full-time AmeriCorps members will be placed to work alongside Salem Public Schools and Lynn Public Schools and community-based organizations in the two cities to provide tutoring, mentoring and academic support services to immigrant students and their families.  The goal of the partnership is to help immigrant students overcome barriers and challenges to learning and improve their academic outcomes.

“This is a great example of taking an innovative model that works in one city and replicating it in another to help even more students succeed,” said Michael K. Durkin of United Way, which has been overseeing the program in Lynn since 2013.  “The increased coordination and communication between the schools and the community-based organizations who are typically providing after-school programming better identify students in need of academic support and provide them with tutoring and other services. It’s an example of leveraging all the resources that a city has to offer.

“We are excited about the expansion of this innovative AmeriCorps program which will capitalize on the power and passion of 25 dedicated AmeriCorps members to address the needs of students in Lynn and now Salem,” said Emily Haber, CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance.

United Way selected Lynn and Salem because of their concentrated immigrant populations.  According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 54% of students in Lynn Public Schools and 29% of students in Salem Public Schools are in a household where English is not the language spoken at home, compared to 18% of students statewide.  The graduation rate among English Language Learner students in Lynn is 56% and 65% in Salem, compared to an 85% graduation rate statewide.

Margarita Ruiz, Superintendent of Salem Public Schools, said, “We are so pleased to have partnered with the UWMB/MV for this terrific opportunity to have ten AmeriCorps members in Salem to mentor and support our English Language Learners both in and out of the classroom.  This complements the District’s strategy to support diverse learners.  We know that these individuals will have a positive impact in helping our ELL students achieve and excel in and out of school.”

Close to 470 middle and high school students were provided these services during the 2015-2016 school year.  Of this number served:

  • 75% of the participating students demonstrated improved academic engagement, as evidenced by promotion to the next grade;
  • 60% showed increased performance in a core academic class;
  • Among a cohort of students from Lynn Classical High School, immigrant and ELL students who received services from AmeriCorps members assigned to Lynn Classical earned an average grade of 80.25% in the core subject in which they worked with an AmeriCorps member; immigrant and ELL students at the same school who did not receive the services earned an average grade of 71.23% in the same courses.

“We have been extremely pleased and fortunate to have AmeriCorps volunteers in our schools through the United Way’s Lynn AmeriCorps Program,” said Dr. Catherine Latham, Superintendent of Lynn Public Schools. “They have helped many of our newcomers overcome their language-learning challenges and bolster the strength of our services, and they are great examples of the merit of public service.”

Funded by United Way and the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the partnership will expand services to Salem High School and the Bauditch Middle School in Salem for the 2016-2017 school year. AmeriCorps team members will be placed to serve students at these two Salem Schools as well as at two community-based sites – Salem YMCA and LEAP for Education.  In Lynn, AmeriCorps members will serve at Marshall Middle School, Breed Middle School, Lynn Classical, Lynn English and Lynn Vocational Technical high schools, Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development (LHAND), Girls Inc., New American Center, Lynn YMCA, La Vida and Children’s Law Center.