The grant represents a major step toward establishing the Gardner School as a neighborhood center that would join with local agencies to offer a wide range of community services, such as career counseling, health services, recreational activities and community education classes for children and adults.
The Gardner School is one of three in the nation chosen as a extended services program model by the DeWitt Wallace Foundation. Representatives from the School of Education and the Graduate School of Social Work worked with local education officials and numerous community-service groups, including the Allston-Brighton Healthy Boston Coalition and the Allston-Brighton YMCA, in obtaining the planning grant. Boston College also is helping neighborhood planners pen a proposal for a larger grant which would formally enact the program.
University administrators and local educators and leaders are hailing the collaboration as an unprecedented town-gown partnership.
"This is a new venture for the University," said SOE Associate Dean Mary Walsh. "Together, we're trying to hammer out better solutions for the community."
"Although our primary goal is education, children have so many other needs that interfere with their ability to learn," said Gardner School Principal Catalina Montes. "Only by serving these other needs can we serve our primary goal of education. This grant is like a dream come true, because it will give us an opportunity to truly support children and families throughout the community."
"Parents, teachers, service providers, community members and Boston College students and faculty are learning a great deal from each other," Director of Community Affairs Jean McKeigue said. "More importantly, people are discovering together how to better serve children and families. This effort reflects Boston College's desire to bring its mission of social justice and training future leaders into real-world situations with a true collaborative spirit."
Administrators also said BC's partnership with the community is a signal example of the innovative "outreach scholarship" that is the hallmark of the new Center for Child, Family and Community Partnerships. The center, headed by Brennan Professor of Education Richard Lerner, is administering the $50,000 planning grant.
"Outreach scholarship involves a collaboration between university and community in the development and use of knowledge pertinent to the values of the community," Lerner said. "Together, they are seeking to learn about the ways in which services supporting positive child and family development can be integrated to promote the life chances of the people of the Gardner School.
"This knowledge will be applied to the development of new programmatic initiatives that will empower the community to envision, enact and sustain efforts that are valued by, and meaningful to them," Lerner said.
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