CAPE ANN, MA — In an effort to increase the number of Cape Ann students who go on to post-secondary education or career paths after graduation, a network of education and human services institutions are partnering with business leaders to ensure vulnerable youth from the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester access resources and services to prepare them for college, training in the trades and career opportunities.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is awarding a grant of $75,000 to Wellspring House, Inc. who will serve as the convener of the new Cape Ann Young Adult Education and Career Collaborative. This Collaborative of nonprofits, three local high schools and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce (through its Business Education Collaborative), have organized to launch additional services in October for young people from the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester. With the funds from United Way, the Collaborative plans to connect 40-50 youth to services during the 2019-2020 school year, providing students with career coaching, educational advising and access to internships and programs across the partner agencies.
Goals of the Collaborative include increasing the number of youth who graduate from high school or achieve high school equivalency. The Collaborative will also aim to increase the number of young people attending post-secondary college or career training, including the number who enroll in existing programs in the community. According to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), 33% percent of Gloucester High School graduates do not pursue post-secondary education, compared to 24% statewide. Among low-income students that gap is even higher: 49% percent of economically disadvantaged GHS graduates do not attend post-secondary education, compared to 34% statewide.
“The purpose is to ensure that our region’s most vulnerable youth and young adults access the resources that already exist aimed at preparing them for success in life,” said Melissa Dimond, Executive Director of Wellspring House. “Together, we want to address common barriers that young people experience in preparing for education after high school and develop new internships that enhance career pipelines into trades and other workforce opportunities.”
Gloucester’s Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken says of the newly launching Collaborative, “Everyone in our community needs a sense of belonging. Every mind matters. Because of this effort young people that thought they didn’t have a future will get to have a future.”
“Businesses, schools and community-based organizations all have a role to play in ensuring that young people succeed,” said Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Together, we can provide the resources and services to motivate and encourage students not only to graduate, but to pursue meaningful paths toward opportunities for either college or career.”
Partners in the Cape Ann Youth Education and Career Collaborative include Wellspring House, Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, Gloucester High School, Rockport High School, Manchester-Essex High School, the COMPASS program at Action, Inc., North Shore Community College, Gloucester Biotechnology Academy, the On Your Mark program at Open Door, LEAP for Education, Project Adventure and the North Shore AmeriCorps program of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the AGH/Beth Israel-Lahey MDPH sponsored School Based Health Center, the Gloucester Health Department, the Gloucester Housing Authority, and Children’s Friend and Family Services.