United Way, AmeriCorps and Lynn Public Schools Expand Efforts Around Immigrant Students

October 26, 2015

Partnership showed improved academic outcomes in 2014-2015

Lynn – A partnership between United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, AmeriCorps and Lynn Public Schools is showing positive results among the participating middle and high school youth and is expanding during the 2015-2016 school year to two additional high schools in Lynn, the organizations announced today.  The announcement comes on the heels of the AmeriCorps “Opening Day” events, which kicked off the 2015-2016 service efforts across the country.

The partnership aims to improve academic engagement and reduce the school dropout rate among immigrant students in Lynn.  Placing a team of AmeriCorps members to work alongside Lynn Public Schools and community-based organizations in the City, the three-year effort is providing tutoring, mentoring and family support services to help immigrant students overcome barriers and challenges to learning and improve their academic outcomes.

Close to 470 middle and high school students were provided these services during the 2014-2015 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.

“Key to the successful outcomes for students is the increased coordination and communication between the schools and the community-based organizations who are typically providing after-school programming,” said Michael K. Durkin, President at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “With AmeriCorps team members as connectors, staff from the Lynn schools and the out-of-school time programs could 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 the City has to offer to help students succeed.”

“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.  AmeriCorps has become a valuable program for Lynn Public Schools and it is our hope that this program will continue to grow.”

Funded by United Way, AmeriCorps and the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the partnership will expand services to Lynn English High School and Lynn Vocational Technical High School for the 2015-2016 school year.  There are 15 AmeriCorps team members working 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.

The partnership selected Lynn because of its concentrated immigrant population.  According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 54% of students in Lynn 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%, compared to an 85% graduation rate statewide.

It is one of few AmeriCorps programs in the country, and the only one in the Commonwealth, specifically targeting English Language Learner populations. Additionally, is the only AmeriCorps program targeting a specific community, and working to not only provide direct academic supports, but also connecting services between schools and out of school time providers.