Springfield College has received more than $800,000 in AmeriCorps grant funding to support the College’s efforts with the Massachusetts Reading Corps and the School Turnaround Initiative throughout the city of Springfield. Funding for both programs allows 78 Springfield College AmeriCorps members to serve as PreK literacy tutors, academic coaches, school counselors, and academic support specialists in 17 public schools in Springfield, in HeadStart and Square One Programs, and in YMCA PreK classrooms. The grants are administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
New three-year grant funding for the Massachusetts Reading Corps will continue to support Springfield College AmeriCorps members serving as literacy tutors in public and private PreK classrooms in Springfield. The AmeriCorps members implement whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one literacy interventions targeting the “Big 5” language and early literacy skills that are essential for future reading success. The Massachusetts Reading Corps is a replication of the Minnesota Reading Corps model, the nation’s largest state AmeriCorps tutoring program.
Funding for year three of the School Turnaround Initiative will allow Springfield College AmeriCorps members to continue serving in teams as academic coaches, school counselors, and academic support specialists in high-need elementary, middle, and high schools in Springfield. Members support each school’s turnaround plan by serving as caring adult advocates, mentors, coaches, and counselors focusing on research-based risk factors for dropping out, including low attendance, course failure in English and Math, and behavioral issues.
First funded in 1997, the Springfield College AmeriCorps Program has provided several models of service to the City of Springfield over the years, reports Dr. Linda Marston, director of Grants and Sponsored Research at the College. “It remains the largest, continuously funded sponsored program supporting community engagement at Springfield College,” added Marston. During the 2014-15 academic year, Springfield College AmeriCorps members provided more than 44,000 hours of service to 479 at-risk students in grades PreK through grade 12 in the Springfield Public Schools and the Springfield-based Square One and HeadStart programs.
“Service to others is essential to Springfield College’s mission, and the AmeriCorps Program allows Springfield College students and members of the community to provide meaningful service that has a measurable impact on Springfield youth and on the members themselves,” explains Shannon Langone, Springfield College AmeriCorps Program director. “AmeriCorps members leave the program with a strong sense of commitment to their community and to continuing to serve others throughout their lives.”
At the state level, the Commonwealth received $10,615,471 in AmeriCorps funding from the CNCS. These grants support 1,564 AmeriCorps members across the state to serve 23 programs. AmeriCorps members will directly address critical needs in Massachusetts including early literacy, college readiness, academic literacy of English Language Learners, land stewardship, natural resource management, legal services to unaccompanied children and low-income families, food security and affordable housing.
“National service is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges facing Massachusetts,” said Emily Haber, CEO of MSA. “These AmeriCorps members will meet pressing local needs and strengthen communities as they develop civic and leadership skills to last a lifetime. I congratulate these outstanding organizations and thank all those who serve their communities through AmeriCorps.”
On a national level, AmeriCorps engages 75,000 members in intensive service annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 25,000 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $5,730 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans.
“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said CNCS Chief Executive Officer Wendy Spencer. “Building on Massachusetts’ strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will improve lives and strengthen communities across the state. As they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also expand opportunity for themselves - gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers.”
Since 1994, more than 900,000 Americans have provided more than 1 billion hours of service addressing critical challenges from poverty and hunger to disasters and the dropout crisis. In Massachusetts, more than 29,000 AmeriCorps members have served 40 million hours and earned more than $93,100,000 in education scholarships.
Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide for the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News and World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services campuses across the country.
The AmeriCorps programs at Springfield College are sponsored in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Department of Education, the Massachusetts service Alliance, the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation.