• High School Extension Program
  • Home  cpsd  Blogs  Superintendent's Blog  CPS Partnerships (Part Three)
    CPS Partnerships (Part Three) 

    In previous posts, I have discussed the extraordinary partnerships that exist today between the Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) and the business and university communities in our city.  Now I want to turn our attention to yet another key contributor to the network of caring providers who make a real, sustained, positive difference in the lives of CPS students—the Cambridge non-profits.  As was the case with my earlier posts, once again I will need to offer apologies in advance, as I will not be able in this small space to give due credit to all of the organizations and agencies that work with us to build a system of what is known in the social science literature as “collective impact.” In fact, there is so much to say that this post will appear in two parts (with Part Two in the space next week).

    The best way to offer a view of the partnership landscape is to hear the providers, in alphabetical order, describe their work themselves. 


    The Cambridge Agenda for Children (AFC) supports out-of-school time (OST) programs to build quality and partner effectively with schools and families in the city. The AFC is a citywide intermediary investing in the strength and quality of youth-serving programs across the entire city. AFC is driven by research and practice that have shown that out-of-school time holds great promise for reaching and supporting our CPS students. The AFC is made up of youth workers, teachers, leaders, organizational managers, advocates, coaches, innovators, and OST programs themselves (including those listed below) working together with the goal of ensuring that every young person in Cambridge succeeds.

    The Agassiz Community Center offers project-based learning opportunities that allow children to learn and think in interdisciplinary ways that reflect real-world situations (Ex: "Flying Zucchini Cafe": a two night pop-up restaurant planned and staffed by afterschool students).  These are low-pressure chances for students to try new things, practice skills, pursue curiosities and discover their own strengths.   The center provides lots of support for social-emotional development and opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. 


    Beyond the 4th Wall provides the free All-City Musical program for students from all neighborhoods in grades 3 through 8.  BT4W works with CPS to ensure that all students have access to the program by utilizing the school bus system for safe transportation, holding auditions and doing outreach at all upper school campuses, and making sure cost is not prohibitive by keeping the program free. The BT4WW/CPS partnership has helped create a one-of-a kind-program that brings students together to learn how to be a performer and build self-confidence.  BT4W plays a pivotal roll in easing the transition from both elementary to upper school, and upper school to high school, by creating a diverse community of artists who work together from all schools to produce a musical to be performed for the whole Cambridge community. 


    Breakthrough Greater Boston is a 23-year old college access organization founded in Cambridge that serves CPS students.  Breakthrough intervenes early--in 6th grade--and stays with highly motivated, low-income, first generation students until they achieve their dreams and matriculate at four-year college (demonstrating a 97% success rate over the last seven years).  Breakthrough provides six years of intensive academic and college preparation services in the summer and after school utilizing a unique Students Teaching Students model.  The college students who teach at Breakthrough serve as powerful role models along the path to college.  Breakthrough accomplishes its impressive outcomes thanks to a deep partnership with CPS, regularly collaborating with teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators to ensure coordinated and seamless supports.


    Cambridge Camping has served under-resourced Cambridge youth and families with high quality day camp programs for over 40 years. Campers at both the traditional Adventure Day Camp and the Daybreak Camp for youth with behavioral and developmental challenges go on field trips to the ocean, participate in fun physical activities, play in nature, and make new friends over a five-week summer program.  All campers receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack as well as transportation, and in 2015 Cambridge Camping began a partnership to provide the weekend backpack program to food-insecure families of campers. 


    The Cambridge Community Center supports CPS children in grades K-8 with comprehensive out-of-school time care. Whenever school is closed, CCC is open, ensuring that families can work while their children receive academic enrichment, family support and a safe and nurturing environment.  For children in grades 9-12, the center offers employment and an opportunity to provide service to their community.  We are also home to The Hip Hop Transformation, a powerful program that teaches teens to think critically about popular media, the history and culture of hip hop and how to write, record and perform their own music.  THHT has created two full-length mix tapes and has performed throughout the City. Founded by African American leaders, CCC has been here for 86 years; children who attend the Center become "Center Kids" for life. 


    Focused on the vitality and well-being of the city, the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) has addressed issues of education and enhancing opportunity throughout its 90-year history.  For decades it has supported public education, sometimes directly and often by funding the many nonprofits who partner with CPS.  In 1995, CCF helped initiate Cambridge's Agenda for Children and has supported it with well over $1 million over the years. In the past year alone, CCF provided grants worth $288,000 to 16 CPS nonprofit partners for activities ranging from academic support to summer learning loss, the arts, STEM, college access and success.


    In Cambridge Community Television's Youth Media Program, students gain media production and career readiness skills as they work in paid roles as media artists, creating media about the people and issues that matter to them. At an important crossroads in a young person’s life, this program builds confidence and equips teens with valuable skills that will help them reach future goals.  CPS teachers and staff offer support to CCTV and guide students with their media assignments, directing them to resources and participating in interviews.


    Nearly 50 years ago, in 1966, a group of parents came together to volunteer as librarians in the brand-new elementary school libraries. These 15 mothers quickly began tutoring English language learners, students who spoke another native language, and helping seniors with their college applications and essays.  From these small beginnings came Cambridge School Volunteers (CSV), which today runs a panoply of volunteer programs in every CPS school, including Reading Buddies, NetPals, upper school Learning Centers, the CRLS Tutoring Center, College Readiness mentorship, Science Olympiad, and a host of classroom volunteer initiatives in literacy and math. Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers--including those from 15 corporate partners--provided more than 52,000 hours of adult support, tutoring, and mentoring through these CSV programs.


    City Links, started 23 years ago by Cambridge Community Services, is an intensive out-of-school program that provides English Language Learners at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School the additional supports and experiences necessary to succeed academically and transition to college. The program’s holistic model nearly doubles the learning day through 15 hours each week of activities, including 1:1 academic tutoring, 1:1 mentoring, paid internships and job readiness training, weekly 2-hour seminars on college and career, and service learning opportunities. In addition to placing students in paid internships at City and non-profit offices around Cambridge, City Links also provides real-world learning opportunities in partnership with Kendall Square companies, including coding classes, on-site career panels and work-site visits. City Links has partnered closely with the ELL Department at CRLS for over two decades and greatly appreciates the operating space at CRLS and financial support made available by CPS to help expand the program to more ELL students.

    Look for Part Two next week.

    This post also appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle.


    Posted by jyoung On December 04, 2015 at 5:03 PM