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Harvard formally announced its first investments in the Boston After School for All Partnership on Wednesday, committing $400,000 in grants to 21 community programs serving Boston school children, including three groups that involve Harvard undergraduates.
At a ceremony at the Tobin School in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood, representatives from Harvard, the city of Boston and members of different community organizations gathered to hear the announcement of the grant recipients, part of Harvard’s commitment of $5 million over the next five years to expanding and improving afterschool programs in Boston.
Over $23 million has been promised to afterschool programs by both public and private institutions involved in the partnership, which was announced last March.
Harvard is the first member of the partnership to announce any formal investments.
University President Lawrence H. Summers and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino were among the event’s speakers, all of whom touted Harvard’s first official commitment to the partnership.
“I very much appreciate the commitment President Summers is making to education,” said Thomas W. Payzant, superintendent of the Boston public schools.
A committee of Harvard faculty members, administrators and students selected 19 established afterschool providers in November to receive grants of up to $20,000 each, with recipients coming from Harvard’s three Boston host communities of Allston/Brighton, Fenway and Mission Hill.
The grant recipients range from programs in elementary schools to high schools, with the funding to be used to increase program staffing, make the programs available to more students, provide more staff training and develop new curricula.
Three of the programs that received grants will involve volunteer work from Harvard undergraduates: Tenacity, a program that combines tennis instruction with academic tutoring; the Mission Hill After School and Summer Programs; and the Harvard Online Tutoring Program, run through the Boston Public Library system.
In total, Harvard’s funding will allow programs to serve more than 3,000 children, with 600 of those children participating in new or expanded programs for the first time.
Apocalipsis Rosario, a seventh-grade student at the Tobin School who participates in Sociedad Latina’s Mission Enrichment Program, praised the impact of the tutoring and mentoring program on her, and the need for the program’s expansion. Sociedad Latina was one of Harvard’s grant recipients.
“This program is an inspiration to me, and in my opinion, it should be a part of all Boston schools,” Rosario said during Wednesday’s ceremony.
Menino said the program grants would improve the education that students receive beyond normal school hours.
“It’s reinforcing what goes on in the classroom, and that’s so important,” Menino said.
And investing in such an effort fulfills part of Harvard’s educational mission, Summers said.
“Harvard exists for only one reason, and that is, the future of the world depends more than anything else on what young people learn and go forth and do,” Summers said.
But Summers said Harvard’s commitment is more than just a monetary investment, saying faculty members at Harvard Medical School and the Graduate School of Education are committed to studying and improving afterschool programs.
Summers also praised Harvard students currently volunteering in programs in Boston and Cambridge.
“Harvard would not be doing what it could do, or should be doing, if this was just about writing checks,” Summers said.
“We can help with our spirit as well as our money.”
—Staff writer Imtiyaz H. Delawala can be reached at email@example.com.
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