Grant To Aid B.C. Researchers In Developing
A/B Programs

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Armed with a $250,000 grant from an anonymous donor, Boston College researchers have teamed with community agencies and the 13 public schools in Boston's Allston-Brighton neighborhood to plan improved services for schoolchildren and their families.

Project Director Prof. Mary Walsh (SOE) said the aim is to build cooperation on a range of services to boost Allston-Brighton children's potential for success in school. Those support services may include mentoring and tutoring services, after-school programs, health and counseling services, and various youth-development programs.

The alliance is the latest between Boston College and its neighbors to bolster schools in ethnically diverse Allston-Brighton, where the University has played an active role in the establishment of an "extended services" program at the Gardner Elementary School that offers everything from job counseling to English classes for schoolchildren's families.

The new partnership is intended to pave the way for other schools in Allston-Brighton to become involved in the delivery of social services to children and their parents, according to Walsh.

"We have formed a three-way partnership between the University, the schools and community agencies to address the hurdles to learning that many kids face," Walsh said, "from lack of adequate health care or housing to the lack of a safe neighborhood.

"We're looking at ways to make services more comprehensive to serve the kids and their schools," said Walsh. "There should be, as a result of this, more opportunities for more children to gain access to community resources and services to improve academic achievement."

Walsh said the project is one of a number of similar efforts by agencies across the city to support "Focus on Children," a comprehensive reform plan by the Boston Public Schools. One of the guiding principles of the plan is the development of collaborations with families, universities, community-based organizations and government agencies to offer services that strengthen and support children's learning.

"This initiative hopes to mobilize the rich resources, ideas and good will of the Allston-Brighton community, its public schools and Boston College to improve our capacity to provide for the healthy development and school success of all children," said Walsh.

The 13 public schools in Allston-Brighton serve some 5,500 children, many from immigrant backgrounds. Among the families of the 520 pupils of the Gardner School alone, more than 30 languages are spoken.

Walsh said the grant supports a year-long process to develop a plan for enhanced social service delivery at schools in the neighborhood. She said additional external funding will be sought to implement the plan once it is devised.

The schools themselves will ultimately decide the services in which they will participate, said Walsh. Delegations from each of the schools will meet regularly with a BC team consisting of project director Walsh, program coordinator Michele Montavon, a part-time instructor at SOE, and SOE doctoral student Stacey Raczek, who is serving as project evaluator.

Return to Dec. 10 menu

Return to Chronicle home page