Creating a more just world requires training transformational educators who prioritize social justice and equity in classrooms and organizations. Our Office of Urban Outreach Initiatives (UOI) oversees several key programs dedicated to preparing tomorrow’s change agents. UOI efforts include the College Bound program and the Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars program.
As part of an intensive one-year M.Ed. program that leads to licensure, Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars learn how to flourish as K–12 teachers in urban schools through a curriculum that prioritizes critical inquiry, social justice education, and community building.
College Bound is a pre-collegiate enrichment and support program offered to a diverse group of 50-60 students in 7th through 12th grade from three Boston Public Middle and High Schools: Dr. Henderson Inclusion School, Neighborhood House Charter School, Gardner Pilot Academy.
The mission of the College Bound Program is to empower students to become positive change agents in their schools and communities. Through a S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) lens, students learn about a variety of important issues impacting their communities.
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Traditionally, College Bound students come to Boston College's campus every other Saturday (transportation and lunch is provided). Students spend a whole day on the college campus engaging in social justice infused S.T.E.A.M. projects (e.g., hydroponics, aquaponics, 3-D printing, laser cutting, smart greenhouse, and drones).
College Bound's virtual programming has allowed its students to produce exceptional work that encompasses various S.T.E.A.M. dimensions, students' individual career and purpose journey, as well as their continued activism on fighting anti-racism and anti-Blackness.
Founded in 1988, College Bound has since been at the forefront of providing resources and services to underserved students from BPS. The program is historically rooted in the BPS busing court order as means to implement the desegregation plan. Part of this plan involved connecting universities with “districts” in BPS for purposes of improving educational programs, providing more opportunities and support for students and families of color, to achieve academic success amidst the racial injustices. Working with BPS’s District 3/Area B, Boston College College Bound sought out to provide out-of-school-time enrichment for students from communities like West Roxbury, Roslindale and parts of Mattapan. Most of the CB students then attended West Roxbury High School or Urban Science Academy. However, given the high number of students who were in need of support programs and limited overall program funding, CB struggled to keep the program afloat. Fortunately, in 1991, the desegregation plan was transferred to the Boston School Committee, which allowed partnerships between BPS schools and Boston College to remain. With additional funding from State Street Bank, New England Telephone and Bull HN, Brighton High School was included as a new partner.
In 1992, the first cohort of College Bound students enrolled in a college, and since then the numbers have only continued to grow. As the program started gaining more momentum and support, a $1 million grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation – with half designated as an endowment for College Bound – was awarded in fall 2001. Today, the Lynch School and National Science Foundation fund the program as well. This has allowed College Bound to expand their services to 7th and 8th grade students from Gardner Pilot Academy and Dr. Henderson Inclusion School.
In 2004, the fomer director, Catherine Wong, saw the need to integrate the College Bound under the umbrella term "Urban Outreach Initiatives." This re-organization allowed the students of College Bound to access a network of educators of color, of school partnerns in and around the Greater Boston Area, and most importantly, the resources that Boston College has to offer. In leveraging this wealth of resources and network, the program which began with an enrollment of 40 students per year, increased to 75 students per year. This success culminated in the 30th year anniversary in 2018.
Despite the successes, the constant struggle to maintain partnerships and ensure sufficient streams of funding remains. In December 2018, the Boston School Committee voted to close down West Roxbury High School and Urban Science Academy. As a result, over 700 students and their families were forced to transfer to another school district. Among the affected students, many of whom were regular participating students at College Bound.
Less than 2 years later, College Bound is again faced with an unprecedanted challenge, the COVID-19 pandemic. To address institutional challenges, the Lynch School of Education and Human Development went through another re-organization and decided to integrate College Bound under the Department of Strategic Initiative External Relations.
Today, the College Bound community is still dealing with the aftermath of the school closure, along with a new set of challenges pose by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has stood its ground and will continue to create new partnerships and enhance the quality of its programming. As the program enters its 4th decade, College Bound will only continue to promote its interdisciplinary collaborative nature, and place emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
Ever since March 2020, due to the impacts of COVID-19, College Bound has shifted its programming to a virtual format. In leveraging virtual conferencing technology, as well as various other easy-to-use and accessible educational tools, students were able to complete the Spring semester virtually, all of which culminated in an end of semester virtual showcase.
The success of the Spring semester allowed College Bound to host a virtual summer institute over a 2 week period in the summer of 2020. Students worked with instructors and College Bound staff to design their own learning goals and create their own projects. Project topics include Microbits, 3-D printing, TinkerCAD, and Artifical Intelligence. In addition, students were provided opportunities to explore and reflect on their purpose and future careers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, students were given the space to learn about activism in a virtual world and to craft their own counter-narratives in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. By the end of the 2 week summer institute, students presented their work in a virtual Gallery Walk.
Our alumni network is still growing, with 31 years of graduates that we are working hard to reconnect with. The alumni network offers opportunities for alums to stay connected, feel supported, and give back.
College Bound is supported in part through the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, The Peter J. Sharp Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.
Urban Outreach Initiatives is involved in several partnerships with Boston College offices, Donovan Scholar and College Bound alumni, and local and national efforts that impact diversity and inclusion within our urban schools and communities.
Our intent is to develop unique collaborations that allow diverse students' voices to be heard and their change agency recognized. These collaborations include but are not limited to: St. Joseph Preparatory High School's College Road Program.
Urban Outreach Initiatives' has also developed a sought after Early College Exploration program that provides school aged students with a campus visit to include college application advisement, an overview of the admissions process and a honest depiction of student life from the perspective of first generation and students of color from Boston College.
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