Happy 50th birthday to Cambridge School Volunteers!
“Through the years CSV has been integral to supporting our school partnerships that pair volunteers with our students. They have opened doors to many opportunities to our students that they wouldn’t typically be exposed to.” Kathy Walsh Malone, Teacher, Kennedy-Longfellow School
In 1966, a group of Cambridge mothers—Mary Samp, Florence Mintz, Bette Rae Preus, and Marsha Stainton—came together for the first meeting of what would become Cambridge School Volunteers. Armed with boxes of donated books and a wealth of good intentions, this group of PTA moms was eager to establish much-needed libraries in the Cambridge Public Schools. They opened shop at 126 Inman Street and set about to recruit their first 15 volunteers.
From 1967 to 1970, Cambridge School Volunteers Program (CSVP), as it was originally known, placed 150 volunteers in the schools and began a number of new initiatives: the Classroom Aide program, Curriculum Enrichment Program, and the Children’s Museum Loan Box Program. The Cambridge School Department hired CSVP’s first part-time staff and provided an office at the Rindge Technical High School. By the early 1970s, CSVP had started the Career College Information Center, the Tutoring Center, and had become a non-profit under the new abbreviated name, Cambridge School Volunteers, Inc (CSV), under President Lee Robbins.
Immediately after Proposition 2½ was enacted in the early 1980s, CSV, like many school programs, shrank due to budget cutbacks. By the mid 1980s, CSV bounced back, raising $30,000 from charitable foundations and corporations and placing more than 600 volunteers in the schools. The first CSV Mack I. Davis II Recognition Awards were held and sponsored by Harvard University in 1989, and Mary Loveless was recognized there as an outstanding volunteer.
CSV worked to partner with local corporations, government agencies, universities, and community groups. In the late 1980s, with the support of Draper Lab and MIT Press, CSV established Reading Improvement with Computer Help (RICH) at the Kennedy-Longfellow School. Around this time, CSV also started the High School Dropout Prevention Program.
Today, CSV has more than fifteen corporate partnerships, some of which have been going strong for more than two decades. These include Reading Buddies, NetPals, and KeyPals. CSV also places hundreds of individual volunteers. CSV now includes 15 programs in all of the Cambridge Public Schools, serving students from JK through twelfth grade. In addition to the corporate programs mentioned above, CSV runs the CRLS Tutoring Center, Learning Centers at all five upper schools, an early literacy program, the Art & Science in One Program, and an Intergenerational Math Program. Last year, in schools across the district, our CSV volunteers gave 52,001 hours of tutoring and mentoring, in aggregate—more than 289 hours per school day. Many volunteers return year after year to support teachers and classrooms.
While CSV has seen many changes over the past fifty years, CSV’s mission to help all Cambridge students achieve academic and personal success remains unchanged. Today, as always, the one-to-one relationship that we forge between individual K-12 students and caring, competent adult volunteers who serve as their tutors, coaches, and mentors stands at the heart of what CSV does.
Come celebrate our anniversary with us at our April 1st fundraiser: