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HOLYOKE — People’s United Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm of People’s United Bank, N.A., announced that it has awarded a $5,000 grant to the Community Adolescent Resource and Education Center Inc. (The Care Center), which provides, innovational, educational support programs for low income, pregnant and young mothers (ages 16 – 24) in Holyoke. The grant will help bolster its Bridge to College program, which provides young mothers with in-house college courses for students preparing to take the high school equivalency exam, in addition to support services to promote college access and retention. 

Through the Bridge to College program, approximately 85 women will prepare to take The High School Equivalency Test (Hi-Set) while also gaining exposure to college-level work and receiving support in the college application process. 

“We are so grateful for the important investment People’s United Community Foundation has made in the lives of the young women in this community. With their support, young women have the opportunity to begin their path to college and on to a brighter future,” said Anne Teschner, executive director of The Care Center.

The Bridge to College program helps young mothers traverse the arduous path from high school dropout to college graduate. Similar to college preparatory schools, The Care Center program provides an ideal learning environment including small class sizes, lively academics, and a commitment to their students. Additionally, supportive services such as transportation, daycare, counseling, meals, and a staff nurse practitioner allow them to concentrate on their studies. Each year, approximately 70-80% of The Care Center’s graduates continue to higher education. 

“The Bridge to College program is giving young mothers a second chance and the opportunity to pursue their dreams,” said Patrick Sullivan, Massachusetts president, EVP of People’s United Bank and officer of the Foundation. “We are proud to be able to support them in their mission supporting young women at a time in their lives when that little bit of extra help and support can make all the difference.”

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, 42% of the Care Center’s 2020 graduates have already matriculated to college. Since 2016, graduates have had the opportunity to attend Bard Microcollege Holyoke, the nation’s first college designed for young mothers and low-income women. This program has a 74% graduation rate, with graduates going onto pursue Bachelor’s degrees at Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Trinity Colleges.

In total, People’s United Community Foundation and People’s United Community Foundation of Eastern Massachusetts collectively awarded more the $325,000 to 57 Massachusetts nonprofits as part of its first grant cycle of 2021.

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