City Connects Coordinators don’t just match students up with community partners – our coordinators also invest in making these relationships flourish.
That’s the work that City Connects Coordinator Madeline Gillespie does at Mendell Elementary School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Gillespie has worked with the nonprofit mentoring organization Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG) to ensure that the program has a positive impact on students.
“We have a robust program with about 25 girls in grades three, four and five who meet with six mentors who are students from Simmons College,” Gillespie says.
Through the SWSG curriculum, the girls and their mentors learn and talk about strong women and girls. At the Mendell school, this conversation has included both famous girls such as Marsai Martin, the 15-year-old, African American actor who appears on the television show black-ish – as well as less-well-known women such as Jasmine Cho, an Asian-American baker who is committed to social justice. Continue reading →
When Joy Richmond-Smith looked at the data she collects on all her school’s students, she saw that some young children were struggling with reading.
“They weren’t making progress in meeting the benchmarks,” Richmond-Smith says. She is the City Connects Coordinator at the Saltonstall School in Salem, Mass. “We have some in-school supports, but we’re also always thinking about ways to increase the ways that kids practice reading and creating more chances for them to be read to.”
The younger children were already getting extra reading support from specialists, but Richmond-Smith saw a way to add another support. She turned to some local readers: older students in her K-8 school who know first-hand that schoolwork can be hard.Continue reading →
In Massachusetts and Minnesota, City Connects staff are helping schools meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELL).
“In Salem, the predominant language that’s spoken, other than English, is Spanish,” according to Ellen Wingard the City Connects Program Manager in Salem, Mass., where 31.2 percent of the district’s 3,620 students speak a first language that isn’t English, and 13.2 percent are ELL students.
“We also have a pretty large Portuguese speaking population and a growing Albanian population and some of our students speak Arabic.”
So, when Salem’s language acquisition teams meet monthly to review the needs and progress of ELL students, City Connects Coordinators are at the table.
“The coordinators are prepared to talk about any mitigating factors for language development,” Wingard explains. “They share critical data about a student’s family, health, and social/emotional wellbeing.”Continue reading →
“We love mentoring,” City Connects Coordinator Will Osier of Boston’s Josiah Quincy School says.
That’s why every week on Wednesdays, 20 girls from the Quincy School in grades eight through 11 go into the heart of downtown Boston and meet with mentors at the online furniture and home goods company Wayfair.
City Connects works in the Quincy Upper school serving students in grades 6-12. In the upper grades, the City Connects model helps older children dream big. And just as they do in elementary schools, Osier and other coordinators working with older students provide individualized services and opportunities that meet students’ strengths and address their needs. Coordinators engage students in designing personalized plans and connect them to resources, relationships, and opportunities that can boost their college and career aspirations.