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Monfredo: 100 Males to College Program is Succeeding

Saturday, March 16, 2019

 

The two-day conference sponsored by the Worcester Educational Collaborative, “Strength, Character and Heart: Our voices on the Journey of Manhood” at Worcester State University was well done and those who attended learned a great deal.  Superintendent of Worcester Maureen Binienda and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Susan O’Neil and I attended in the event.  One of the breakout sessions that I visited was on the “100 Males to College program.”

This program was designed in response to a 2014 report that found drastic educational attainment disparities for low-income Latino and African American male graduates from Massachusetts public schools.  The report found only 17% of low-income Latino male students and 22% of low-income African American male students who graduated from Massachusetts public high schools went on to obtain college degrees or certificates within six years, compared to over 50% rate for all high school graduating classes.

Through a collaboration effort with Worcester Public Schools, Quinsigamound Community College and Worcester State University, the “100 Males to College” program began.  This program is a dual-enrollment cohort for low income males in high school.   Robert Jennings, Worcester Public Schools coordinator for the program stated, “These groups have partnered to offer students college level courses, programming that promotes positive gender identity, and student supports that foster positive academic success with the aid of wraparound support services.

This state funded program is in its third year and the goals of the program are to target young men and even young women in our high schools to achieve these goals:

  • Close the achievement gaps
  • Boost high school completion rates
  • Attract more young men (and women who can also apply) toward post-secondary education.

 

Dual enrollment, mentoring and student participation were all part of the presentation. The project encourages building supports and experience in the high school and the community to bolster success. It attempts to give the students the tools and experiences they need to be college and career ready.  All seven of the high schools in Worcester are part of the program.

Organizers of the project include …Robert Jennings: Worcester Public Schools Coordinator,  Jared Delane from Worcester State University, Kerry Berry: Quingamond Community College Coordinator and Carla Quinsigamond Mentor.  Other major players include the following from WSU …Marcela – Uribe Jennings, Kevin Karanja, Ryan Forsythe, Linda Crocker and MaryJo Marion.  From QCC Christine Herbert and from the Worcester Public Schools Mary Mead-Montique and Cathy Knowles.

This amazing program has very little requirements for high school students to register.  There are no GPS requirements but they must be interested in pursuing a post secondary education.  Obviously, there is lots of recruitment and encouragement on the part of the organizers and the guidance people involved in the program for their goal is to let the students know that they are wanted in the program and  to encourage the students to believe that they can succeed.

Incentives do take place in the program such as earning Red Sox and Worcester Railer’s tickets to the games.  The students with a college mentor are able to go on trips to visit colleges in the area and the transportation is free.   Those students  involved in the dual enrollment  faze of the program take college courses  after school and on Saturdays with transportation again being provided.  In addition, students who pass the college courses get college credit and thus save themselves additional money when enrolling in college.

It’s important to know that students are not left on their own to “slip and slide” for a great deal of counseling and assistance from a college mentor are all part of this well structured program.  Throughout the year the students are exposed to additional assistance and career planning as well.

Last year, 52 students took the risk of enrolling in Dual Enrollment courses... 45 passed and 32 passed with a B or higher mark.  This year there are 107 students  enrolled in the over-all program... 3 freshmen, 11 sophomores, 44 juniors, and 49 seniors.  Included in the group are 13 young ladies.

Again, the project framework is anchored in strengthening young people through a positive youth development model that embraces culture, identity and community.  The program gives students the ability to believe in themselves and has a structure that will assist them in succeeding and develop the confidence and the know-how that they have a bright future in front of them by working hard.

Superintendent Binienda recently acknowledged that the “100 Males to College Program” is a remarkable opportunity for Worcester Public School students.

She stated, "We have learned so much from our students which includes the importance of eliminating barriers to learning. This program demonstrates the importance of providing mentors both within our schools and in each college to support our students. The selection of classes and instructors who honor the talents of our students is central to the success of this program. Students should be proud of their accomplishments. The testimonies of the students in this program clearly demonstrate our students have gained confidence in their academic abilities, an understanding of college life, and a strong brotherhood with each other. ‘100 Males to College’ serves as the model as we expand Early College High School and Innovation Pathway Programs.”

 

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