JFYNetWorks, Quincy College, Urban Science Academy collaborate on summer learning

Boston Urban Science Academy students in the Summer Bridge program at Quincy College 8-16-2017

Twenty-nine students from Boston’s Urban Science Academy completed a summer course at Quincy College August 10 thanks to a unique partnership between the high school, the college, and JFYNetWorks.

Urban Science Academy is located in the old West Roxbury High building at the end of VFW Parkway, the southernmost delta of the city. Its students come from a broad swath of neighborhoods extending from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury and Dorchester to Mattapan, West Roxbury and Hyde Park. The daily trip to school via T can be an ordeal.

When Headmaster Jeff Cook wanted a college campus-based summer program, the geography of access looked daunting. He discussed the problem with JFYNetWorks, his longtime college readiness partner. JFY executive director Gary Kaplan suggested a solution: Quincy College. JFY had been working with the college for many years on college readiness in the Quincy schools. He told Jeff about Quincy’s many degree and certificate programs, its friendly atmosphere, and – the clincher—its location at the Quincy Center Red Line station, 7 stops from Downtown Crossing. One meeting with Dean of Inter-Institutional Affairs Mike Marrapodi was all it took to seal the deal.

The high school applied for a “Summer Bridge” grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to enable students who needed to make up credits for graduation to take courses at the college. The courses would be developmental English and math courses, and they would serve two purposes: they would fulfill the requirements for a high school diploma, and, depending on final test scores, they would qualify students for subsequent credit-earning courses at the college. There was a third potential benefit: students who passed the Accuplacer placement pre-test with JFY could enroll directly in a credit-bearing college course during the summer.

It was a bold idea for a high school that had never offered college courses and a college that had never worked directly with Boston schools. But JFYNetWorks, a college readiness partner to both, was confident that it would work.

And it did. DESE awarded the grant and the program started July 10. Twenty-six USA students completed developmental English and math courses and graduated August 10. Three more students completed regular Quincy College courses and earned college credit.

Student reaction was unequivocal. Areissa Hart, who lives in Mattapan, said the program “helped me understand how to use time management, a skill that’s really important to have in college.”

Tyrese Thomas of Roxbury added that he is inspired to work harder in school. “After these five weeks, I can see my future in college and really want to attend college more than I ever have.”

Both attendance and performance have been so strong that the three partners—USA, Quincy College, and JFY—plan to expand into a full early college program in the fall.

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