REDUCING ACHIEVEMENT GAPS
Framingham’s most economically and educationally distressed young school age children and families are served in this unique multi-tiered program. The students are culturally and linguistically diverse and the most at risk for growing educational, health and social gaps. Over 60% of the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School students are bilingual/bicultural. With these expanding achievement gaps, interventions are required in elementary school to prevent later school failure. Reducing the Gaps has proven to be a successful, evidence-based model. This project is lead by JFS of Metrowest in collaboration with foundations, private donors and the Framingham School Department. It is made up of several components:
This component targets third grade boys and girls, with a commitment to identifying children from the bilingual classrooms and those with specific educational needs. Building confidence and self esteem while focusing on reading and understanding school materials, improving communication skills, and troubleshooting cultural differences, form the underpinning of this enhanced educational experience for these youth. The All Stars meet twice a week throughout the school year and are mentored by volunteers of all ages.
Math Academy aims to use inquiry-based education with a target on mathematical principles to assist students in becoming open-minded thinkers and communicators. Math Academy will serve 26 fourth grade boys and girls who will work with program staff and volunteer mentors to improve and expand their math skills. Math Academy will meet twice a week throughout the school year.
Chapter Girls is a book club for 5th grade girls that accelerates learning opportunities for these girls. A special lunchtime group that provides a safe space to enhance not only literacy skills, but social skills by interacting with female role models and discussing topics pertinent to a growing girl. Under the leadership of female volunteers, the group meets weekly during their lunch and recess to discuss the book and connect it to their own life experiences.
Weekend Nutrition Program
Many families rely on the school free and reduced breakfast and lunch program to assure that their children will receive nutritious meals. While students receive free breakfast and lunch at school, there is no guarantee that the students and other family members will have access to nutritious food on the weekends. On Fridays, parents referred to the program can pick up grocery bags filled with enough nutritious food to feed their family through the weekend.
Fresh produce is healthy but it can be expensive. Families who need help providing food for their families are often limited to the canned and boxed foods available in food pantries. Healthy Harvest provides free fresh produce to families enrolled in any Reducing Achievement Gaps component. Produce bags are distributed every other Tuesday and include items such as apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, onions, yucca, collards, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and more.
Family Assistance Program
A community resource specialist is available to meet with Wilson families to provide information and assistance regarding housing, employment, nutrition programs, legal assistance, medical assistance, utilities assistance and answer any questions families may have. Assistance is offered in English and Portuguese and available to all Wilson families.
In partnership with the MA Chapter of Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, parent and child pairs are provided with hands on cooking and nutrition advice. This six week course allows families to learn practical and healthy good choices and how to prepare them at home.
A program for Wilson School parents, Parent University has a goal of building parents’ capacity to be actively engaged in their children’s education, to understand their children’s educational challenges and opportunities, and support them. Parent University also aims to help parents and guardians reach their own higher educational goals. Through workshops and presentations, Parent University strongly embraces the notion that the more a parent or guardian has, the more he or she can give to the child.
To volunteer with Reducing Achievement Gaps after-school programming, apply here