Boston Tutoring Services: Tell me a little about your organization.
Pamela Civins: Boston Partners in Education (Boston Partners) has been contributing to the academic achievement of Boston’s public schools students since 1966. We mobilize volunteer academic mentors to assist struggling K-12 students in reading, writing, and math. In high school, our volunteers also support students struggling in science. Academic mentors help students gain the skills, self-confidence, and motivation they need to succeed in school and in life. Students with academic mentors improve their grades and scores on exams, participate more in their classes and develop a love for reading, math and science.
Boston Partners currently operates three programs (the School Volunteer Program, Math Rules!, and Power Lunch) and one sponsorship initiative (the Big Cheese Reads) in Boston schools to help students in grades K-12 build confidence and succeed academically.
When we began operating in 1966, we placed 28 volunteers in six Boston Public Schools. Today, Boston Partners in Education continues to support student advancement and the work of Boston’s school teachers, placing nearly 600 volunteers in 64 schools. We emphasize the benefits of one-on-one and small-group tutoring and mentoring. In grades K-2, we will match a volunteer academic mentor with a whole classroom. Our volunteers provide at least one hour of support each week, mostly during the school day, throughout the academic year.
BTS: What are the organization’s biggest goals? What is its mission?
PC: Boston Partners in Education enhances the academic achievement and nurtures the personal growth of Boston’s public school students by providing them with focused, individualized, in-school volunteer support.
Our biggest goal is simple, but challenging. We want all students in Boston to stay in school and graduate. Boston Partners in Education is one of many organizations helping to make this a reality. We want students to keep up and get ahead in their studies.
My personal hope is that all young people are on the path of becoming life long learners and active members of our community. I see so much promise in our youth, and I want them to have a chance to reach their full potential.
BTS: What is the most gratifying aspect of your work?
PC: Having the privilege to unite diverse groups within our community through something so important- a quality education. It’s rewarding to see teachers tapping into our services to provide their students with the best support possible.
We are honored to be able to act as the link that binds two pressing needs– our youth need mentors and extra academic support, and our community members (both from area neighborhoods and corporate Boston) need opportunities to be involved. This is even more gratifying when we witness the mutual benefits these partnerships provide. As an academic mentor myself, I get to experience the benefits firsthand each time I enter a classroom and work with students from my neighborhood, Dorchester.
BTS: What are some of the organization’s greatest accomplishments?
PC: Here at Boston Partners in Education, we are deeply proud of the enduring legacy our organization has established towards closing achievement gaps within Boston Public Schools. As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2016, we continuously reflect on why we were founded: To give the children who are struggling in school the tools necessary to become better learners. At the time, Boston Partners in Education was recognized as an industry pioneer in the Greater Boston Area, one of the first organizations to mobilize volunteers to support Boston students and their teachers.
While we are no longer alone in this mission, Boston Partners continues to reach thousands of students and their teachers annually. We continue to evolve and adapt to the needs of our many constituents. All of us on staff are always striving to do our work better.
BTS: Does your organization host or launch any special events throughout the year?
PC: Yes! Our flagship fundraising initiative is our Big Cheese Reads. Annually, in the spring, we have our Big Cheese Reads Gala, an exciting evening when we honor our corporate partners and community leaders.
Over the school year, through this initiative, we connect corporate, community and cultural leaders with middle schoolers in every neighborhood in Boston. These leaders, known as “Big Cheeses,” do a one-time read aloud and Q&A with students about the importance of literacy and career development. I like to call this a mentoring moment for our students and an eye-opener for our partners, since they meet some amazing young people during their time at the school. All the money raised through the Big Cheese Reads supports our core programs.
Each year, Boston Partners celebrates our volunteers, teachers, principals and community partners by hosting our Academic Mentor Party (AMP!) at the end of the school year. This event has one purpose – to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment to helping students in Boston succeed.
BTS: How can other people get involved?
PC: Boston Partners in Education welcomes volunteers from all walks of life, levels of education and experience. Our volunteers come from every neighborhood of Boston, surrounding suburbs, local businesses and colleges.
I encourage people to get involved. We ask for one hour, once a week during the school year. We will help find the perfect match for people interested and committed to supporting our youth.
We have a process for preparing our volunteers, including undergoing an annual CORI/SORI background check and participating in a subject-focused training. To get the process started, please visit our website and complete this application: http://bit.ly/1uDwA8b.
We also encourage those interested, to follow us on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and check out our blog (http://bostonpartnersineducation.wordpress.com/) for more information on our volunteer events and opportunities.