Cambridge, a center of industry leaders and start-ups in technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and other scientific research, is also home to many children who face hurdles as learners. In 2015, the proportion of children in Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) students who were low-income made up 45 percent of enrollment. Those whose first language was not English comprised 28.3 percent of enrollees. Twenty-eight percent of the student body was African American, and 13.5 percent was Hispanic.
At Cambridge School Volunteers, we enable businesses to have a concrete, positive impact on the education of city children. The school department and our corporate partners place a high value on leveraging the energies and talents of tech workers, university staff, and employees in other sectors. This veritable army of caring individuals, volunteering in coordination with their employers, forge personal, high-impact relationships with kids by serving as one-to-one KeyPals, NetPals, or Reading Buddies.
We’re proud to report our 2015 tally of volunteer time— close to 13,000 hours—donated through these three models of corporate partnership.
READING BUDDIES: Currently in its twenty-second year, Reading Buddies matches young readers with adults for several months of reading aloud together.
During 2014–15, the program paired 157 volunteers with young students at Fletcher Maynard Academy and Kennedy-Longfellow School, the elementary schools whose students are among the most economically disadvantaged* in the city (51 percent and 36 percent, respectively). Reading Buddies also runs at the Amigos School in English and Spanish. Reading Buddies instills a love of reading through personal, one-to-one, ongoing reading relationships, at a critical juncture for developing readers.
KEYPALS: A program for all fifth-graders at Kennedy- Longfellow School, KeyPals just completed its twenty- first year. KeyPal mentors help to increase students’ reading comprehension through weekly sharing of writing about non-fiction informational texts. The program also embeds technology into a variety of learning experiences.
NETPALS: Through the one-to-one relationships it establishes with working professionals, the NetPals program provides Cambridge seventh-graders with early opportunities to explore careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
|157 Volunteers||31 Volunteers||256 Volunteers|
|3,389 Hours||72 Hours||8,718 Hours|
Each student has his or her own mentor, who is recruited and co-trained with one of our corporate partners, and these pairs meet together three times, face-to-face. Cambridge School Volunteers staff and Cambridge Public Schools’ teachers supervise regular email correspondence between each NetPals mentor and student over a period of six months, building students’ skills in online communication and STEM content within the context of their regular science class. Netpals occurs at three of the upper schools: CSUS, PAUS and RAUS.
This year CSV welcomed Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a Reading Buddies partner, into the NetPals program. Additionally, four more new corporate partners—the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, Skanska, Oracle, and PegaSystems— joined NetPals. CSV celebrated the 10th anniversary of Novartis’ participation in NetPals in 2015 as well.
*According to the definition used by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education