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Springfield College Honored for Community-service Efforts

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College was named a finalist for the President’s Award for Community Service by the Corp. for National and Community Service (CNCS). The college was one of four finalists in the education category and also was awarded Honor Roll with Distinction status in the category of general community service.

This nationwide designation is part of the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and recognizes institutions and their students across the country for their commitment to volunteer service. The award was based on data from the 2012-13 academic year, during which more than 3,500 Springfield College students completed more than 480,000 hours of service to the Springfield community through volunteer work, service learning, internships, practica, fieldwork, and other activities.

“Students come to Springfield College with a desire to serve and to immerse themselves in academic and co-curricular programs that will allow them to make a difference in their community,” said President Mary-Beth Cooper. “The college offers a wealth of meaningful service opportunities allowing students to develop as scholars and engaged citizens. Our students work extremely hard throughout the academic year to be part of our community. This recognition is a reflection of their continued dedication to service.”

The Springfield College AmeriCorps Program and the Partners Program remain two of the college’s constant and long-standing community outreach programs, which, combined, are responsible for the contribution of more than 50,000 hours of service. Springfield College AmeriCorps members provided more than 44,000 hours of service to 479 at-risk students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 at Square One, Head Start, and Springfield Public Schools during the 2012-13 academic year. As part of the Student Success Corps, now known as the School Turnaround Initiative, AmeriCorps academic coaches and school counselors provided interventions and support for students struggling with low attendance, course failure in English and math, and behavioral, social, and emotional issues.

AmeriCorps literacy tutors implemented the nationally recognized Minnesota Reading Corps pre-K model in an effort to ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to learn how to read. This pilot of the Minnesota Reading Corps evolved into the Massachusetts Reading Corps, which is currently providing early-literacy support to more than 400 pre-kindergarten students in Springfield.

“The goal of the AmeriCorps programs at Springfield College is to give students the support they need to remain on the path to high-school graduation,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Program Director Shannon Langone. “Our programs are based on research-driven models and interventions that have been shown to effectively target risk factors for dropping out. By using what we know works in a very intentional way, we can have a measurable impact on the academic achievement of youth in Springfield.”

The AmeriCorps programs at Springfield College are funded in part by the Corp. for National and Community Service, the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation.

For more than 20 years, the Springfield College Partners Program has paired college mentors with Springfield Public School students from both the Brookings and DeBerry elementary schools. Since the program’s inception, more than 600 elementary-school students have been mentored. Previous research indicates that youth who participate in the program report better grades, improved attendance, increased confidence about themselves and the future, and fewer behavioral issues in and out of school.

In total, more than 760 higher-education institutions were named to this year’s honor roll. From that group, four schools were selected to receive the President’s Award in one of four categories — general community service, economic opportunity, education, or interfaith community service. An additional 16 schools are named as finalists for the President’s Award, the highest federal honor a higher-education institution can receive for its commitment to community service. A complete list of this year’s winners can be found at www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll.

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