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Springfield College Receives AmeriCorps Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College has received more than $800,000 in AmeriCorps grant funding to support the college’s efforts with the Mass. 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 Pre-K 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 Mass. Service Alliance (MSA) with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). New three-year grant funding for the Mass. 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 Mass. 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 Pre-K 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.

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