‘Collaboration is the answer’: Alma’s expansion plans approved

Posted Jan 22, 2019 at 8:37 AM

MALDEN — Alma del Mar leader Will Gardner and New Bedford Superintendent Thomas Anderson sat side by side before the Board of the Elementary and Secondary Education Tuesday morning, awaiting a vote on their new collaboration revealed last week.

“Seeing the two school leaders sitting next to each other with this sort of tone and this sort of uniting mindset is going to be one of the finest visual memories I’m going to have in my time serving on this board,” said member Michael Moriarty of Holyoke.

The board approved two motions for Alma del Mar Charter School. First, the board granted Alma 450 additional seats for K-8, under a few conditions including a memorandum of understanding and necessary legislation, allowing the collaboration with the city to move forward.

Last Monday, Commissioner Jeffrey Riley recommended that Alma del Mar expand to a second site that the city owns but isn’t using; officials have said the site will be the former Kempton School, serving 450 students. Under this plan, the city is set to redistrict, including Alma’s second campus, where some students will be assigned instead of going through the typical lottery.

If that plan doesn’t work under the collaboration, then Alma would be granted 594 seats, half of its original request.

Member Mary Ann Stewart of Lexington voted no on both motions, while member Ed Doherty of Boston abstained from the first motion and voted no on the second.

Stewart said that the board heard from the Massachusetts Teachers Association at the meeting and received a letter from State Rep. Chris Hendricks in opposition. She also noted challenges with funding in K-12 education and the 2016 vote against expanding charter schools.

“We should not have any new approvals of charter schools,” she said.

Doherty, who served as president of the Boston Teachers Union for 20 years, according to the state education department website, told The Standard-Times that in general, he’s philosophically opposed to the expansion of charter schools. He noted his vote isn’t reflective positively or negatively on what the school does.

He said the amount of money that’s taken away from public schools for charter schools is a major educational problem, especially for students in low income communities.

After the votes passed, Gardner told The Standard-Times that Alma is “laser focused” on opening the new school, hopefully at the former Kempton School, in August to serve 200 new students in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades.

“We’re hopeful about the agreement between Alma and the city and the commissioner,” Gardner said. “We have some serious work to do in the weeks ahead.”

Anderson told the board he believes that Alma del Mar leaders share a similar focus and the partnership opportunity clarifies that understanding. “My focus is to forge ahead as collaborative partners to serve the best interest of students,” he said.

The MOU needs to be taken care of within 45 days of the letter of intent being signed and it needs to be approved by Riley. Alma del Mar needs to submit a draft enrollment policy as soon as possible that reflects the negotiated integrated enrollment process with the city district and the proposed growth plan. That, too, will need Riley’s approval.

Under the conditions, Alma should promptly and effectively communicate with the education department regarding significant matters relevant to the suitability and readiness of the new campus.

“By agreeing to the establishment of a 450 student, neighborhood-based charter school, the city will have avoided the significantly higher costs of the alternate proposal of nearly 600 students in a choice-based school,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement. “It is a much fairer way to do charter schools – fairer to the city, fairer to taxpayers and fairer to students in our district schools. Until state law is fixed to account for the enormous expense of charter school expansion on local taxpayers, the New Bedford approach will lead to a better result for cities facing new charter applications.”

After two parents of Alma del Mar students spoke in favor of the school’s plans, a couple of education attorneys from the Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts, a subsidiary of South Coastal Counties Legal Services, said they provide direct representation to low income families in education matters and work closely with family and community members in New Bedford.

They said they were at the meeting to raise ongoing concerns about Alma’s current ability to serve high-needs students, which should be considered in discussions on expansions. They also acknowledged apparent high in-school and out-of-school suspension rates, particularly for students with disabilities.

Elizabeth Levitan, an attorney with the Youth Advocacy Foundation and Law Project, spoke on behalf of a group of attorneys and advocates from across the Commonwealth working to advocate for school discipline reform. Charter schools remain among the highest suspending schools in the state, she said. She encouraged the commissioner and the board to consider suspension rates on charter renewals and expansions, such as with Alma. She asked for a condition on the expansion of Alma on improvement of disciplinary practices to better serve students.

Parent Kristin Raffa has a 6-year-old daughter at Alma and a 9-year-old son at Pulaski Elementary, the same school she attended as a child.

“My daughter is that student that opponents would have you believe gets counseled out of the charter school programs,” she told the board. Her daughter has an extensive IEP, she said, has been embraced by Alma’s high-support model and is “thriving in her own unique little way.”

Gardner said the school is building a culture team around student support including a social emotional specialist, adding professional development around trauma-informed instruction, partnering with outside groups along with hiring a social worker to provide additional counseling.

Members of the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools were in the packed audience, including co-chair Ricardo Rosa. After the meeting, he noted that this type of partnership could be used as a model for other cities and towns. “That tells us where we’re going,” he said. He said most of the board comes from communities that are drastically different from New Bedford, which is “problematic” and they should visit the city.

Member Margaret McKenna, president emeritus of Lesley University, said, “Collaboration is the answer for kids, not fighting each other.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT.

Original story here.

Opinion – Your View: Excellence in all schools requires reforms to funding and approach

Posted Jan 22, 2019 at 7:27 PM

In the not too distant future, nearly every kind of work that we do will be affected, in some cases dramatically, by technology and automation. While we will need new ways to think about higher education and workforce training as critical tools to meet this challenge, it actually all begins with the elementary and secondary public education system.

Across the country, those individuals with higher education and skill levels are doing better than ever, and those without are being left further behind. As automation begins to have a greater influence on nearly all of the workplaces of America, it will be far too easy for cities such as New Bedford to fall off the pace. This global change in the world of work can offer great opportunity for our citizens and we must be unflinching in taking full, and perhaps unexpected, advantage.

The recent partnership agreement between the city of New Bedford and the Alma Del Mar Public Charter School is just the kind of bold thinking needed to meet the challenges ahead.

But while such collaborations should be celebrated, alone they will not get us where we need to be. The fact is that the funding of public schools in the commonwealth does not meet the needs of ever-increasing disadvantaged populations, and these populations are notably concentrated in the cities and urban centers.

The Chapter 70 foundation formula was certainly groundbreaking 25 years ago, but the Foundation Budget Review Committee stated in their 2015 report that there have been gradual but ever increasing shortcomings in meeting the true costs of funding English language learners, those with special needs, transportation, health care and professional development for teachers, and the everyday classroom and facility needs of the school buildings where they spend their days. It is now at a point of true crisis, resulting in different schooling types (public, vocational, and charter) fighting each other for scarce dollars while cities struggle with tax increases just to meet the minimum state mandated investment thresholds.

All the while students, their families, and all taxpayers suffer.

The stresses are now too great on too many municipalities. Now is the time to fix the 1993 foundation formula, and there appears to be a tangible willingness of our elected leaders to do just that.

There is sponsored legislation (the Education PROMISE Act) in the State Senate and Governor Baker stated in his second inaugural address just weeks ago that such reforms would be included in his new budget. This is a generational opportunity and will not be easily accomplished.

Let us altogether support our own delegation, the governor, and all of the many stakeholders who will advocate on Beacon Hill in what will be serious debate on how best to achieve reform, while balancing all of the other needs of the commonwealth. And with increased resources, let us support measures that keep accountability at all levels, for all school types, at the highest national standards. Our representatives must have our support in fighting for the full funding of all local and regional district needs for cities such as New Bedford, as well as the full reimbursement of charter school relocations within the current cap set by the commonwealth.

However, our efforts cannot end with the reform of Chapter 70, since additional funding alone will not get us to where we need to be, and recent successes in our public schools remain desperately fragile. We must be champions of excellence and strive for a complete and comprehensive system of schools that can meet the needs of all students, their families, and the employers of the region.

Such a system will provide New Bedford with competitive advantage when parents, employers and developers are looking for communities to invest or locate. All school types (public, vocational, charter, parochial, and private) must be part of this system and all should work in a collaborative and purposeful construct with excellence as the mission for all. Achievements cannot come at the expense of any one of the different school types and we must come together to eliminate the feeling that one is taking from the other in achieving high results in performance.

We are writing with enthusiasm on this topic on behalf of The Regeneration Project of the New Bedford Economic Development Council — a collaborative platform that represents 37 community, institutional, and business leaders who are committed to shaping, advocating for, and tangibly advancing strategies for sustainable and shared growth for the City of New Bedford and the region.

We understand the interrelationship of a successful system of public schools with economic growth and in 2017 published a white paper on this issue, Raising the Bar: Better New Bedford Public Schools Will Lead to a Stronger Economy.

This issue has been at the forefront of our thinking again this past year as a foundational element expressed in our full report, Realizing the Potential, released at the MassINC annual gateway cities gathering held in New Bedford. We are fully committed to the need for significant improvement of all the schools in New Bedford and to the success of the more than 13,000 schoolchildren being educated in our city.

We all want the same successes. We must all be in this together.

Gerry Kavanaugh and Anthony Sapienza are the co-chairs of the Regeneration Project of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Kavanaugh is president of LStar Investments and LStar Ventures. Sapienza is president of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.


Rick Kidder
President & CEO
SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce

Nicholas Christ
President and CEO
BayCoast Bank

Keith Hovan
President and CEO
SouthCoast Health System

Dr. Laura Douglas
President
Bristol Community College

Maureen Sylvia Armstrong
President, CEO and owner
Sylvia Group Insurance

Patrick Murray
President and CEO
Bristol County Savings Bank

David Slutz
Managing Director
Potentia Holdings

Elizabeth Isherwood
Chairman
Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation

Helena DaSilva Hughes
Executive Director
Immigrants’ Assistance Center

Christopher Rezendes
Founder and President
INEX Advisors

David Martin
President
Heat Transfer Products

Anne Broholm
CEO
AHEAD, LLC

Quentin Ricciardi
CEO
Acorn Management

Jeff Glassman
President
Darnit! Inc.

David Wechsler
President and CEO
Maritime International

Jennifer Downing
Executive Director
Leadership SouthCoast

Joseph Nauman
Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal (retired)
Acushnet Company

John Vasconcellos
President
Community Foundation of Southeastern Mass.

Bob Unger
Past Chairman, Leadership SouthCoast
Principal, Unger LeBlanc Strategic Communications

Rosemary Gill
Executive Director
Zeiterion Performing Arts Center

Adam Cove
CEO
Edson International

Scott Dubois
Co-Founder
Pidalia

James O’Brien
Superintendent
GNB Regional Vocational Technical High School

Sarah Athanas
Co-Founder
Groundwork!

Amanda McMullen
President and CEO
New Bedford Whaling Museum

Jim McKeag
Senior Fellow

MassDevelopment issues $132M bond for UMD project

MassDevelopment has issued a $132,185,000 tax-exempt bond to help build, furnish and equip a five-story, 306,900-square-foot residence hall at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The new facility, which will house approximately 1,210, mostly first-year students, will include a dining hall and space for student activities and academic support. The residence hall will replace an existing dormitory, built in the 1970s, which the university will demolish once the new facility is opened.

The bond was issued on behalf of Provident Commonwealth Education Resources II Inc., a public-private partnership, according to a news release.

PCER is a nonprofit corporation created by Provident Resources Group Inc., the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, and Greystar GEDR Development LLC. PCER will enter into a long-term ground lease with UMBA for the land on which the building will be located, and will finance, construct, own, and operate the dormitory. The university will participate in the management and operation of the dormitory through its participation on the Project Operations Committee and through its residential life programs. Once PCER’s ground lease expires, ownership will revert to UMBA for the benefit of UMD.

“Our students will benefit from these investments in quality living and learning facilities that will prepare them to succeed in a rapidly changing, highly competitive global economy,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson in a statement. “When combined with our first-rate faculty, these facilities will guarantee our students the private college educational experience and public university value they so deserve.”

Community Foundation awards nearly $700K in grants

By The Standard-Times
Posted Dec 17, 2018 at 2:09 PM
Updated Dec 17, 2018 at 5:58 PM

NEW BEDFORD — The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts announced Monday that 15 of its funds granted a total of $691,000 to dozens of local nonprofit organizations and public schools in a flurry of year-end awards.

Among the awardees were the Carlos Pacheco Elementary School and Irwin M. Jacobs Elementary School, which each received a grant of $48,000 to support enrichment and instructional resources from the Community Foundation’s Jacobs Family Donor Advised Fund, according to a news release.

Global Learning Charter Public School also received $80,000 to support curriculum development and technology needs. Awards also included $25,000 for the Buttonwood Park Zoo’s Nature Connection Education Center and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra’s Learning In Concert program, which also received $25,000.

“The Community Foundation is proud to be the partner of choice for creating philanthropic impact in the SouthCoast region,” said Community Foundation President John Vasconcellos in a statement.

“From the support of deserving scholars in their pursuit of higher education to building the foundational elements of academic success for children at local elementary schools and youth-serving agencies, our work with engaged donors such as the Jacobs Family is bringing change to our community,” Vasconcellos said, “and these timely, year end grants also recognize the important work being done by several trusted and innovative nonprofit organizations in those areas that matter to the donor but also resonate for our community: arts and culture, the environment, economic opportunity, and health and human services.”

Joining the Jacobs Family Donor Advised Fund in making year-end grant awards from the Community Foundation was the Acushnet Foundation Fund, which granted over $85,000 to 10 SouthCoast nonprofits including $30,000 to public health initiatives, as well as the Henry H. Crapo Foundation Fund, which made over $90,000 in awards, including a $50,000 grant to the Buzzards Bay Coalition in support of their effort to help protect 150 acres of coastal farm land.

Other notable grants included an award of $10,000 to PACE Inc. from the Bank Five Foundation Fund to support the construction of a playground, and a total of $12,500 granted by the Lipsky-Whittaker Fund to Coastline Elderly Services Inc. and the Southcoast LGBTQ Network Inc. for programs that advance equality for, support and awareness of the LGBTQ community.

The MacLean Children’s Fund granted $12,000 to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in support of its mentoring program, with yet other Community Foundation funds making grants to the Sippican Historical Society for a statue of Elizabeth Taber and to the Town of Marion to support property tax relief for residents in need, according to the release.

Original story here.

BCC, UMD launch program to streamline path to bachelor’s degree

Posted at 12:39 PM

Bristol Community College and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the Plus Program: Bristol + UMassD.

The program will provide students with access to associate and bachelor’s degree opportunities, and it will begin enrolling students in September 2019, according to a news release.

“Students in our region deserve to have seamless access to a high-quality and affordable education,” said BCC President Laura L. Douglas in a statement. “The Bristol + UMassD program provides a bridge between institutions that is collaborative and combines the specialized resources of both institutions, creating a rich college experience, while also streamlining the transition to a bachelor’s degree.”

UMD will award merit scholarships of at least $2,500 a year to BCC students who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and who enroll as full-time, day students. This program is open to BCC students with fewer than 30 credits, as well as students who are participating in the UMD/BCC articulation agreements or the MassTransfer A2B programs.

Students who completed their AS/AA degree from BCC will enter UMD as juniors.

“This innovative collaboration advances our goal to increase educational attainment across the region,” said UMD Chancellor Robert E. Johnson in a statement. “Together, Bristol Community College and UMass Dartmouth are equipping students with the adaptable skillset and agile mindset required to succeed in a rapidly evolving economy.”

In addition to guaranteed admission to UMD and no application costs, BCC students will also benefit from additional offerings including:

    • UMD’s career development staff will offer workshops at BCC so that students can plan their career path.
    • BCC students will receive priority registration in UMD courses for their entering semester.
    • Students will have access to the library, fitness center, bookstore, and dining halls at both campuses.
    • Students will receive BCC and UMD ID cards that provide access to sporting events, musical and theatre productions, speaker programs, and other events at both campuses.

BCC students who sign up for and meet the guidelines of the Commonwealth Commitment program will attend UMD at frozen tuition and fees throughout their remaining two years of study, a 10 percent rebate on tuition and fees per semester, as well as the MassTransfer tuition credit, according to the release. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Commonwealth Commitment is an agreement between the state’s 15 community colleges and four-year institutions that freezes tuition and fees upon program entry while offering other rebates.

For more information, visit umassd.edu/plus/ or contact the Bristol Community College Office of Transfer Affairs at 774-357-2234 or email transfer@bristolcc.edu.

Original story here.

New Bedford Port Authority to become fisheries rep to offshore wind

NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Port Authority has reached an agreement with all offshore wind developers operating in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island market to serve as the designated Fisheries Representative of the commercial fishing industry to each of the development companies, according to a news release.

Under federal guidelines issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offshore wind developers must establish a fisheries representative to be the fishing community’s primary point of contact for communicating project-related concerns to the developer.

“The NBPA has been contracted by the developers to represent the interests of commercial fishermen, and to be a conduit of information between the developers and the commercial fishing industry as offshore wind farms are developed on the Outer Continental Shelf,” said Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn in a statement. “We’re very excited to have all three developers on board for this timely announcement. Adequate and sustained engagement with the fishing industry will translate into more conciliatory communications and interactions with fishing communities up and down the eastern seaboard as the offshore wind industry begins in the United States.”

In this role, the Port Authority will act as a central clearinghouse of information, convene stakeholders, facilitate dialogue between fishermen and respective developers, and advocate for ways to mitigate impacts of wind projects on commercial fishermen, according to the release. The Port Authority will also work with state and federal agencies to adopt policies and regulations needed to ensure the viability of commercial fishing operations.

“As the epicenter of commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic, New Bedford is the most logical place for the offshore wind industry to interface with fishermen,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who also serves as chair of the NBPA, in a statement. “The New Bedford Port Authority is a key organization to successfully facilitate the development of the offshore wind industry within a vibrant commercial fishing community.”

Tabor Academy puts New Bedford arts, culture and community on the curriculum

Posted at 3:01 AM

Tabor Academy sophomore students started the school year off right with a visit to the region’s arts and culture capital, New Bedford, this past Saturday, Sept. 8.

Roughly 130 students came to the city to kick off the new school year. Tabor Academy is located in Marion, but the New Bedford orientation project is now on its third year.

This year’s theme was “know yourself, know others, build community” — as seen through the prism of arts and culture. Accordingly, a panel of city arts leaders and tour guides was arranged to explore the topic and then downtown New Bedford. (Full disclosure: This writer was one of the tour guides.)

Zoe Hansen-DiBello, strategy advisor and founder of Ethos — a philanthropic education strategy consulting organization; www.ethosstrategy.org — explains how it all got started:

“Mel Bride, [Tabor] dean of community life, Tim Cleary, dean of students and myself came together three years ago and imagined what it would look like if we brought Tabor students to New Bedford for orientation as a way to bridge the two communities.”

Prior to the orientation, Bride and Hansen-DiBello had partnered to connect Tabor students to New Bedford Public School students through the community garden project, Grow Education.

This year’s arts and culture theme was selected because Hansen-DiBello, a city resident, believes, “In New Bedford, I find it intriguing that our public art is often rooted in the historical context of the city, always returning to our past to understand our present and imagine our future.

“In recent years, the city has been increasingly intentional in sharing the stories of those who are often overlooked — and so the panel and tour for Tabor students will recognize and honor New Bedford’s Abolitionists, thriving Cape Verdean culture, youth and hip-hop and the women leaders of New Bedford today but also the past as they are featured in the Lighting the Way Project.”

And, it certainly did.

The orientation tour began at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Union and Eighth Streets. Two busloads of Tabor Academy students disembarked to enter the historic building and meet New Bedford arts and culture leaders and their tour guides.

The spoken word and hip hop artist Tem Blessed launched the morning with an energetic appeal to students to know themselves and what they’re all about. Blessed later closed the tour at Wings Court under the Cey Adams “Love” mural with another inspired piece of wordplay that concluded with everybody chanting “Tabor — Academy” and “New — Bedford” in unison.

Panelists at the Unitarian Church, Jeremiah Hernandez, Rayana Grace, Gail Fortes and Dena Haden amplified the tour’s theme: arts and culture is very much about finding and building community wherever you are, but especially so at this moment in New Bedford.

Hernandez referenced the magic of creativity as depicted in the Netflix series, “The Get Down” as a real-life entry point for people of diverse backgrounds to experience unique culture. The show chronicles the birth of hip hop, with a generous helping of street art, in the late ’70s Bronx.

His family — from the Bronx — brought both him and those aesthetic values to New Bedford and he says the art and music has essentially given definition to his life. That came to be manifested as UGLY Gallery, which he opened with friend and artist David Gaudalupe on Union Street and operated for several years.

Now, that same aesthetic can increasingly be found throughout the city — and Hernandez is still leading the charge as one of the founders of the public art group, SUPERFLAT, which was on the morning’s agenda.

From the church, the students were arranged in groups of 15 and sent out with their respective guides to experience arts and culture on the streets of downtown New Bedford.

Some saw the city’s nascent Abolition Row Park and neighborhood. Others checked out the 54th Regiment mural on the side of Freestone’s City Grille.

Everyone ended up in and around Wings Court, where the recently wrapped up first SUPERFLAT mural festival occurred. Well, maybe not entirely wrapped up…

In a bit of serendipity, Tabor students got to see artist Brian Tillett at work on his massive Jean-Paul Basquiat mural overlooking Custom House Square Park. Tillett is also a commercial fisherman in addition to being an accomplished artist.

When the day job at sea intervened, he simply put the art on hold to return another day to get back to work. That day was Saturday, and the sophomore class of Tabor Academy got to see the legendary face of Basquiat being applied to a downtown New Bedford wall.

It turned into a bit of a (recent) art history class, as many of the students were unfamiliar with the 1980s era New York City street artist. Which just reinforced the whole point of the orientation: to fuse diverse communities together across time and space.

Zoe Hansen-DiBello sums it up nicely. She says the Tabor Academy 2018 sophomore orientation was about “highlighting the vehicles of art and culture as a means to better know ourselves, to understand others, and to ultimately build community.

“The overall goal is for Tabor students and educators to be inspired by the examples seen here in New Bedford for building community through art and culture, and to return to campus ready to connect and create with one another.”

I would add that it’s also just plain thrilling to see the city’s arts and culture, and the people who practice it, making the grade as an inspiration for the next generation. An A+ gets awarded to this outstanding effort.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

Original story here.

‘College-going culture’ heads to Bristol

Posted Sep 7, 2018 at 3:01 AM

“Just Bristol” is the way to the future for Bristol Community College.

With a smart new logo and an updated brand identity, Bristol has reinforced its dedication to better represent its “college-going culture” in the region.

For the first time in the college’s history, the new logo will emphasize the “Bristol” in Bristol Community College, as it drops its BCC acronym.

The rebranding campaign was unveiled Tuesday on the first day of classes this new school year at Bristol.

“Community college is the new darling of higher education,” said Bristol President Laura L. Douglas.

Douglas, who began her stint as college head a year ago, said people are recognizing the fact that community colleges save families money while providing a quality education that either translates into immediate work or to additional study at four-year universities.

And, families are getting bigger once again, which means college must be more affordable.

For adult students, affordability can mean that a degree is within reach. Douglas said Bristol also offers those students convenience, flexibility and support.

“No one wants to give up on their dream of education,” Douglas said.

Douglas, after doing her research, came into the college with a goal of giving it a fresh new image that “matches where we are” in Bristol’s 21st century goals and innovation.

“When we create a college-going culture in our region, where students graduate and assume good jobs, we change lives for the better,” Douglas said in a press release. “Our new brand reaffirms this commitment to the community.”

Last year, the college received a $4.4 million grant from Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to accelerate innovative life sciences education and, most recently, leads the nation’s educational training for jobs related to offshore wind, according to the release.

Douglas said that as industries in the area have shifted from jobs that didn’t require a college degree to careers that demand higher education, workers must be prepared for today’s job market to attain greater prosperity.

“Many times, the people who live in our communities don’t think that the college education is within reach. But, we want them to know that you can attend college without racking up student debt,” Douglas said. “And, for adults who are preparing for college, we offer a high school equivalency program, English as a second language courses, and credit for work experience.”

The college and its revamped and easier to navigate web site emphasizes that “learning is within reach” for everyone, whether they plan to study full-time right out of high school or part-time while working or raising a family.

The new logo has a more “collegiate feel,” according to Vice President of College Communications Joyce Faria Brennan. It was created in “modern green” and accented in “Bristol gray.”

The rebranding campaign will include new signage at Bristol and billboards in the community.

To learn more about Bristol Community College, visit www.bristolcc.edu.

Original story here.

New state effort will unify workforce development programs

Posted Aug 30, 2018 at 9:43 AM

MassHire, the state’s new branding initiative that will unify the state’s workforce development systems, was rolled out Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta at the now former Fall River Career Center.

With more people looking for workers than people looking for work in Massachusetts, Baker said this branding is a good opportunity for the state.

Baker said the goal “in Fall River and across the Commonwealth (is) to really lift up this notion that … if you’re looking for people, there are people here who are looking for you.”

The state’s new initiative combined with the federal Workforce Opportunity Act passed in 2014 provides more flexibility to structure workforce development efforts, Baker said.

“We have the career centers and the workforce investment boards to serve as what I would describe as the brokers between and among the players,” the governor said.

They are “the folks who are looking for something, the folks looking for workers and the folks looking for the skill sets to change careers,” said Baker before a packed room of local and state workforce development staff, elected officials and some local business leaders.

The new initiative means that the 16 local workforce investment boards across the state will now be known as the MassHire Workforce Boards and the 29 career centers around the state become the MassHire Career Centers. The change in designations includes New Bedford.

In addition, the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board is the MassHire State Workforce Board and the Department of Career Services is the MassHire Department of Career Services.

Acosta, who was appointed by Baker last July, said work on the initiative has already started.

“This is exactly what the career centers are delivering today,” said Acosta. “But without the partnerships with the employers we couldn’t get it done.”

In fiscal 2018, Acosta said the career centers around the state have served 132,000 job seekers with 8,000 disabled and over 6,000 veterans while connecting 4,000 with training opportunities. They have also worked with 20,000 employers.

However a poll of employers showed only 6 percent were aware of the career centers’ services, which needs to change, she said.

Acosta said the unveiling of the initiative “is only step one.”

“We also know we need to modernize, we know we need to bring services to where the people are,” said Acosta.

Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board Inc.

Jim Oliveira, Executive Director

1213 Purchase St., 2nd Floor, New Bedford

508-979-1504; www.gnbwib.org/

Bristol Workforce Investment Board

Thomas Perreira, Executive Director

One Government Center, 5th Floor, Fall River

508-675-1165; www.bristolwib.org/

Original story here.

DeMello, Lesley deal will bring ed degrees, teachers to city in innovative partnership

Posted Aug 14, 2018 at 9:27 PM

Cambridge-based Lesley University and the DeMello International Center have sealed their deal to offer bachelors and masters programs at the Union Street building in downtown New Bedford.

As one part of the arrangement, current New Bedford school district teachers who obtain a masters in education will be required to commit to an additional three-years in the district. Students seeking to obtain an initial license to teach through the masters program will be guaranteed a job in the school district with a three-year commitment.

“You’ve got to raise the skill level of this community if we’re going to be successful and be back to where we were, back in the whaling days,” said James DeMello, founder of the DeMello International Center where the partnership was officially announced Tuesday morning.

The program called Rising Tide Educational Initiative, geared toward working adults, will offer partial bachelors degrees in education and other interests. At this point, the programs are still being fine tuned.

The bachelors program will operate through a community college transfer model where students can transfer up to 90 credits which leaves only 30 additional credits to earn the degree.