FRAMINGHAM – Foundation for MetroWest and MathWorks have partnered to fund a pilot program with Literations and Jewish Family Service of Metrowest to promote literacy and address social determinants of health for families in Framingham Public Schools.
The Foundation was approached by MathWorks with an interest in using their funding to promote equity in the region through utilizing the Foundation’s Impact MetroWest initiative that includes a section on racial disparities.
Through the strength of existing relationships and its community network, the Foundation and MathWorks together helped mobilize Literations and Jewish Family Services (JFS) to initiate a pilot program aimed at holistically closing the learning divide.
“Our partnership with the Foundation for MetroWest is a unique opportunity to connect MathWorks’ longstanding commitment to education through our Social Mission programs and our ongoing efforts to ensure a culture of equity and inclusion in our community and beyond,” said Jeanne O’Keefe, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of MathWorks. “Our closely aligned goals of improving the lives of everyone in MetroWest allowed us to mobilize a program that will give students from diverse backgrounds the tools and support they need to learn, create, and innovate.”
Impact MetroWest data shows that third grade reading proficiency in Framingham was at just 38% across the district in 2019 in comparison to the statewide rate of 52%.
Further, only 23% of Hispanic/Latino youth met or exceeded 3rd grade reading proficiency and 30% of African American/Black students were reading proficient.
An important milestone in a student’s career, 3rd grade reading proficiency rates are strongly tied to future academic achievement, including high school graduation.
These persistent gaps in achievement for racially and ethnically diverse students, as well as students from low-income households exist in Framingham and other MetroWest communities.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with MathWorks to support Literations and Jewish Family Service on this unique program tailored to the direct needs of the Framingham community,” said Jay Kim, Executive Director at the Foundation for MetroWest. “Our Impact MetroWest data has given us the ability to address significant community challenges and we’re confident this program will help drive real change for students and families in the region.”
The two-pronged initiative will focus holistically on addressing students’ literacy skills and basic needs for students and their families. Literations’ proven evidence-based literacy intervention program will support students in grades 1-4 to improve their reading by an average of 1.5 grade levels through twice-weekly, 30-minute sessions throughout the school year.
The program will pair volunteers from the community with students for one-on-one learning and social support and fostering intergenerational networks. In turn, students will benefit from improved social-emotional learning and growth in decision making, personal responsibility, and relationship skills, contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of the region. Jewish Family Service of Metrowest will partner with Literations to increase their family assistance support for students and their families to ensure basic needs are met to aid in academic achievement.
The pilot program, which launched in January, will serve 50 students across two Framingham elementary schools – Mary E. Stapleton School and Miriam F. McCarthy School, and expects 75% improvement by at least half a grade.
To be modeled for sustained growth in the region, the program hopes to expand in 2022-23 to eventually serve over 150 students.
JFS will collaborate with staff at Framingham Public Schools to provide immediate and ongoing assistance to any identified student and will work to help stabilize families and build access to resources and services in the community.
“The pandemic has affected our community in so many ways and the data illustrating the academic gap shines a light on just one piece of that,” said Bob Tremblay, Superintendent of Framingham Public Schools. “There is work to be done across grades and schools to support our students. We are so grateful for this community partnership and the opportunity to be able to give students an additional layer of support both for improved academic outcomes and for the social-emotional connection that broadens community connection. We look forward to seeing this pilot program through and hope it can be a model to support more students moving forward.”
Established in 1995, the Foundation for MetroWest is the community foundation serving the cities and towns in the region, encompassing 700,000 residents from Westborough to Waltham and Acton to Walpole. The Foundation promotes philanthropy across the area, helps donors maximize the impact of their local giving, serves as a resource for local nonprofits and enhances the quality of life for all our residents. The Foundation is supported by a wide range of businesses, individuals, community groups and other philanthropic organizations. Since inception, the Foundation has granted $23 million to its nonprofit partners and currently stewards more than $26 million in charitable assets for current needs and future impact.
MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of engineers and scientists, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a block diagram environment for simulation and Model-Based Design of multidomain and embedded engineering systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these products to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, communications, electronics, industrial automation, and other industries. MATLAB and Simulink are also fundamental teaching and research tools in the world’s universities and learning institutions. Founded in 1984, MathWorks employs more than 5000 people in 16 countries, with headquarters in Natick.