United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) will soon deploy a team of 15 AmeriCorps members in Lynn Public Schools and community agencies. Set to begin this fall, the program is designed to help support English Language Learners (ELL) students and families and reduce the dropout rate among immigrant students. Totaling an investment of nearly $1 million in the City of Lynn, the program is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) and the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS) for $189,000 per year for 3 years, plus a United Way match of $227,000 per year.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the overall dropout rate for immigrant students is 4.6%, compared to the statewide average of 2.7%. Typical of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities, Lynn has a large immigrant population, with 27% either naturalized U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens and more than 47 languages spoken by students in Lynn Public Schools.
“This AmeriCorps grant is an exciting opportunity to further our long term investment in Lynn and provide a thoughtful, holistic approach to supporting Lynn families and our outstanding community partners here,” said Michael K. Durkin, President of UWMBMV. “Gateway Cities are a critical economic engine for the Commonwealth and in order to fully realize that potential, we must support these students and their families so they can graduate high school with the skills needed to succeed.”
The investment through CNCS and partnership comes on top of the $1.3 million United Way invests annually in Lynn service agencies. It falls under the scope of United Way’s Community by Community work, which sought feedback from residents on what changes and impact they felt were most important for their city. One of the overwhelming responses focused on reducing the dropout rate and providing more opportunities for youth.
United Way was chosen as one 19 organizations across the state by Massachusetts Service Alliance to host an AmeriCorps team for the 2013-2014 program year. MSA awarded nearly $10 million to programs across the Commonwealth to engage members in service in many ways, from providing support to children from preschool through high school graduation, to upgrading affordable housing for low-income families and for homeless and disabled veterans.
“We are very proud and pleased that, in this highly competitive environment, we are able to support so many incredible AmeriCorps programs in Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Service Alliance CEO, Emily Haber. “Through this yearlong commitment to service, these AmeriCorps members will meet pressing local needs and strengthen our communities as they develop civic and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.”
United Way’s 15 member AmeriCorps team will be placed in Lynn Public Schools and partner agencies to provide key services and to ensure a holistic approach throughout the community to reduce the barriers to academic success among immigrant children and their families.
- Tutoring and academic support to ELL students
- Mentoring to ELL students
- Providing services to families and older youth
Lynn agencies interested in learning more about how to become a host site can contact Natasha Noel at NNoel@unitedwaymassbay.org or 617-624-8131.
Job descriptions are listed at www.unitedwaymassbay.org/americorps