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Harvard Opens Education Portal in Allston

By Nan Ni, Crimson Staff Writer

Although summer break began in June, some Allston-Brighton students have found themselves back in the classroom, learning about science from undergraduate mentors at the Harvard Allston Education Portal.

Located at 175 North Harvard Street, the one-story administrative building—which opened two weeks ago—will house free one-on-one math and science tutoring this summer to approximately 25 local students, according to representatives for the University.

In the fall, the building will also offer reading and writing help, an adult lecture series, and computer-focused workforce development programs, according to Harvard’s Project Manager for Neighborhood Planning Mary Helen Black.

The building is a component of the legally-binding cooperation agreement that the

City of Boston required Harvard to sign before it could break ground on its first project in Allston, a science complex slated for 589,000 square feet and projected to cost nearly $1 billion. As part of the agreement, Harvard has agreed to distribute $25 million dollars over the next decade for community benefits.

This summer, part of the fund is being used to provide stipends to six Harvard undergraduates to provide six hours of individual tutoring per week to Allston-Brighton students.

According to Kevin A. Mckluskey ’76, over 250 Allston residents have already signed up to become education portal members, which will also grant them access to the Blodgett swimming pool.

“We are following through on a commitment we made to the community,” he said. “The education portal enables us to deepen that connection around education in particular.”

Director of Life Sciences Education Robert A. Lue—who directs the portal’s programs—said he hopes the portal will serve as a first step towards establishing a new model for how a large university can contribute to its neighboring communities.

“I wanted to make sure that undergraduates, especially, got involved with Allston’s expansion,” the biology professor said. “What better way is there to continue building a long-lasting relationship than to get our students involved in it?”

Lue emphasized the flexible nature of the curriculum, calling the educational portal a “developmental sandbox” that will allow program participators to discover the most effective ways to teach and learn.

“Think of the education portal as a preamble to the future,” said Lue, who added that he hopes the completed science complex will offer hands-on science opportunities for both Harvard undergraduates and Allston residents.

For Jessica S. Hightower ’09, who has been mentoring at the portal this summer, the flexibility of the curriculum has been both a blessing and a challenge.

“At first, I was a bit unsure about what exactly I would teach them,” she said. “But when I saw that the kids are really interested in all sorts of science, it made it easier for me to share my passion in really creative ways.”

—Staff writer Nan Ni can be reached at nni@fas.harvard.edu.

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