BOSTON – United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley today announced the receipt of a $539,847 grant from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. The funding will support the continuation of United Way’s AmeriCorps program, which trains and supports AmeriCorps members to provide academic, social, and emotional support to multilingual learners in Lynn, Salem, and Gloucester.
United Way’s AmeriCorps model includes both public school and nonprofit organization host sites to ensure multilingual students receive continuous support both during the school day and during out-of-school time programming. Each year, the program mobilizes 30 full-time, trained, United Way AmeriCorps Fellows across more than 15 sites in the three communities. AmeriCorps Fellows provide small group or one-on-one academic and social emotional support and targeted interventions to a focus list of multilingual learner students in four key areas: comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and social emotional skill development. The initiative serves approximately 500 students each year.
The goal of the program is to provide immigrants, refugees, and students with a first language other than English with tutoring and mentoring so they stay on track to graduate and achieve postsecondary success. United Way provides critical program leadership and offers a valuable resource to public schools and community organizations by supporting and furthering the education of immigrant students so they’re able to thrive in school, stay engaged, and graduate.
“Our AmeriCorps program helps to build the capacity of public school districts and our nonprofit partners to ensure multilingual learners get the support that they need,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “We are excited to continue this innovative program, supporting the social emotional learning and development of some of our region’s most vulnerable youth while advocating for education systems change that promotes multilingualism as an asset.”
The communities of Lynn, Salem, and Gloucester were selected as locations for the program based on need, readiness for partnership, and shared community goals. Based on enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, 64% of public-school students in Lynn speak a first language other than English, while in Salem, 33% of students have a first language other than English. In Gloucester, 12% of students speak a first language other than English, a proportion that has doubled since 2015. Across all three public school districts, multilingual students are roughly 25% less likely to graduate from high school than their non-multilingual peers, with multilingual students experiencing a 55% graduation rate, according to 2021 graduation data.
To ensure high impact and quality program delivery, AmeriCorps fellows receive ongoing training, professional development, and coaching in the following focus areas: diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; team and leadership development; social emotional learning (SEL) and youth development; service, partnership, and collaboration; and academic support for English learners and K-12 education.
Development of social emotional skills is especially critical for educational success. According to the Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, (CASEL), SEL is a lever for equity and a foundation for learning contributing to a wide range of positive outcomes, including better academic performance, healthy relationships, and mental wellness. After 11 months working with a United Way AmeriCorps Fellow, nearly 90% of students identified as English learners maintain or improve their social emotional skills.
AmeriCorps State and National, a federal-state partnership with a central role for Governor-appointed State Service Commissions, develops and implements state-specific national service programs. These grants allow organizations to recruit, train and supervise AmeriCorps members who are providing services to support education, disaster services, health, environmental stewardship, economic opportunity and service to veterans and military families. United Way works with the Massachusetts Service Alliance to coordinate the United Way AmeriCorps program.
“National service is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges that the Commonwealth faces as we continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19,” said Emily Haber, CEO of the Massachusetts Service Alliance. “These AmeriCorps members will meet pressing local needs and strengthen communities as they develop civic and leadership skills to last a lifetime. I congratulate these outstanding organizations and thank all those who serve their communities through AmeriCorps.”
Those interested in service as an opportunity to give back, invest in community, or further a career in the field of education are encouraged to apply to the 2022-2023 United Way AmeriCorps Fellowship here.
About the Massachusetts Service Alliance
The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), established in 1991, is a private, nonprofit organization that expands volunteerism and service in Massachusetts by providing individuals and organizations with funding, training, and support, which enables them to strengthen communities and make our Commonwealth a better place to live. Learn more at www.mass-service.org.
About United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is a leading civic engagement organization dedicated to responding to our region’s most pressing issues like housing stability, economic mobility, healthy child development and educational success. We listen and work with communities to identify areas of greatest need and innovative approaches to address them, and then mobilize donors and corporate partners to provide resources to create positive lasting change. We have a vision and a mandate to empower stronger, more equitable communities, and we have the scale and reach to help. Our deep partnerships with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, state and municipal leaders, and businesses make us the region’s go-to mobilizer to address urgent needs and activate comprehensive, long-term solutions. More information is available at unitedwaymassbay.org. Follow us @unitedwaymabay and #LiveUnited.