United Way’s North Shore AmeriCorps team joined with volunteers from Kettle Cuisine, Metro North YMCA’s corporate office, Northeast ARC, and Salem Public Schools to lead a two-day, two-city volunteer event impacting 900 students in Lynn and Salem as well as the host sites of the local program. United Way’s president Michael K. Durkin, Salem School superintendent Marguerite Ruiz, and Rachel Irvine from the Massachusetts Service Alliance joined the service project on April 20 at Salem High School, where volunteers created welcome signage and time capsules for students from the Nathaniel Bowditch School who will be transitioning to new schools in September.
“Our North Shore AmeriCorps Partnership is focused on providing English Language Learner students in Lynn and Salem with the academic, social and emotional supports to increase their engagement and educational outcomes,” says Michal K. Durkin, president and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Together with the volunteers and our community and school partners, we’re fighting to close the achievement gap and ensure educational success for all students.”
The two-day service project engaged over 75 community and corporate volunteers in four projects in Lynn and Salem who together with North Shore AmeriCorps members:
Created welcome signage to be distributed and used across the district at 7 different Salem Public Schools where students will be welcomed next fall. Painting over 100 signs, volunteers will write welcome messages in 3 languages aimed at welcoming and including the new students. The Nathaniel Bowditch School will be closing at the end of this school year and all current students will be transitioning to a brand-new school across the district. These signs will be used to greet students as they tour their new school helping them feel included and welcomed during a time of transition.
Assembled 400 time capsules for current Nathaniel Bowditch School students, each including a compass, a Nathaniel Bowditch pen, Mad Libs activities to take home, and a note of encouragement written by volunteers wishing them luck in the future. With the Nathaniel Bowditch School closing, United Way’s North Shore AmeriCorps program wants to ensure each student has a gift to remember their school community and the opportunity to get excited about what’s to come.
Helped make the new space for the New American Center in Lynn a home for the immigrant and refugee students who attend the out-of-school time programs. Volunteers hung photos of the center’s students, created a giant world map to showcase student roots, and prepped for its summer enrichment program by creating portable summer reading carts, word walls, and posters.
Built a new literacy space at the Lynn YMCA, where students of all reading levels and English language proficiencies can access a story that is engaging and culturally responsive. Volunteers assembled bookcases and categorized books, assessed 200 young readers to place them at their proper reading level, and distributed 200 books for students to take home.
New American Center in Lynn
Through United Way’s North Shore AmeriCorps initiative, 20 members are serving during the 2017-2018 school year in seven public schools and 8 community organizations across Lynn and Salem. Funded by United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the North Shore AmeriCorps partnership is working to increase academic engagement and outcomes among English Language Learner students in these cities. Last year, AmeriCorps members supported 400 students in Lynn and Salem with academic and social emotional interventions both during school and in out-of-school-time programming.