AUGUSTA, Maine — A $2.2 million, three-year grant, funded by the Corporation for National & Community Service and the Department of Education, was announced Wednesday in three separate press conferences. LearningWorks CEO Ethan Strimling was joined by local elected officials, representatives from the Maine Commission for Community Service and School Superintendents Dr. Robert Wall, Ken Coville and Suzanne Lucas to make the announcement, according to a press release.
LearningWorks is one of 13 organizations across the country to be awarded this grant, which focuses on using innovative strategies to help schools put children on the pathway to success. AmeriCorps members will be utilized to increase educational achievement, high school graduation rates and college readiness.
In each school region, 30-35 AmeriCorps members will provide 300-1,700 hours of service, providing extended learning, one-on-one tutoring, community outreach, and/or family engagement. Students from Ellsworth High School, Sullivan High School in Sumner, Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, Carrabec High School in North Anson, East End Community and Riverton Elementary Schools in Portland will benefit from the additional support provided by AmeriCorps members.
United States Sen. Angus King could not be present but had high praise for LearningWorks and the grant: “With this announcement, LearningWorks continues to demonstrate its commitment to and success in improving educational opportunities for students across Maine,” Senator King said in a press release. “These critical funds from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education will assist LearningWorks as it places more than 100 AmeriCorps members into classrooms across Maine, where their valuable work will have a significant and positive impact on both our children and our communities for years to come.”
United States Representative Mike Michaud also remarked on the grant: “A good education is key to achieving career goals as well as growing our state’s economy. I applaud the approval of this critical funding, and I know that it will serve these schools extremely well. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting directly with the team at Learning Works, and I know how dedicated they are to their mission. Providing these additional resources in the classroom will make a real difference to so many of our students’ futures,” said Rep. Mike Michaud in the press release.
All three superintendents discussed the significance this grant award:
“In RSU 24 we are committed to tailoring high school programs to student needs while pursuing attainment of high academic standards,” said RSU 24 Superintendent Suzanne Lukas, according to a press release. “In a time where resources are scarce and the work to be accomplished in education is great, the AmeriCorps staffing will foster the learner-centered programming we are envisioning for our students. Both Ellsworth High School and Sumner Memorial High School are eager to partner with the LearningWorks AmeriCorps Project to provide timely academic assistance and allow us to promote learning through an extended day and year. In addition, our plans to implement service learning that connects students and the community in meaningful ways will advance through this partnership.”
“Regional School Unit 73 is committed to the realization of a high school culture based on student achievement and success. Up until this coming year, Spruce Mountain High School operated out of two separate school buildings located in Jay and Livermore Falls,” said RSU 73 Superintendent Robert Wall in a press release. “When school opens in this year, the newly renovated Spruce Mountain High School in Jay will serve the combined students. The AmeriCorps grant will support the application of intensive and coordinated services that will build a new culture in our combined high school. We are fortunate to be a partner in this grant.”
“I am very excited by this new opportunity to continue the school improvement work at Carrabec High School,” said MSAD 74 Superintendent Ken Coville in a press release. “Over the past several years we have seen dramatic improvements in our drop out, graduation and post secondary enrollment rates. We have also seen significant improvement in educational achievement during high school and the expansion of educational opportunities for our students. This AmeriCorps project and our partnering with the LearningWorks of Portland and the University of Maine Farmington will enable us to provide new resources to students in pursuing success at Carrabec High School and their dreams after graduation.”
The School Turnaround AmeriCorps program supports the placement of a dedicated cadre of AmeriCorps members from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in persistently underachieving schools across the country.
These AmeriCorps members will be serving in schools implementing school turnaround interventions as required by Department of Education’s (ED) School Improvement Grant (SIG) program or as required through Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility.
This grant will fund projects that address multiple student needs and are aligned with comprehensive school turnaround plans. AmeriCorps members will provide extended learning, one-on-one tutoring, community outreach, and/or family engagement.
Members will help keep students on track to graduate by working to increase student academic achievement, attendance and high school graduation rates; improve college and career readiness; and provide college enrollment assistance and advisement.
The program supports organizations that serve low-performing schools around the country, including those in rural areas, and expands on the efforts of Together for Tomorrow, an initiative between ED, CNCS, and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Each year more than 650 School Turnaround AmeriCorps members participating in the initiative will support a variety of intervention efforts aimed at addressing the unique needs of each SIG and Priority school. The 13 awardees will place members in approximately 70 SIG/priority schools in urban and rural communities across the country to support turnaround interventions in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
The School Turnaround AmeriCorps partnership reflects ED and CNCS’ commitment to increasing opportunities for students in disadvantaged communities by providing a high-quality education. Through the SIG program, ED has invested more than $5 billion in more than 1,400 of the country’s lowest-performing schools since 2009. Currently, CNCS programs have a presence in a quarter of schools eligible for SIG funding nationwide.
School Turnaround AmeriCorps will be supported by an initial investment of $15 million in public funds from both agencies and leverage an anticipated $18 million in grantee match funding during a three-year cycle. In addition, AmeriCorps members who complete their service in the program will qualify for a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which could total $1.5 million a year for all participants.
LearningWorks, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Maine, will administer the 2013 School Turnaround AmeriCorps program in four school regions across Maine