Inbox [Oct. 2]: MassDiGI and Community Legal Aid net federal grants, WPD receives anti-gang funds, city seeks Youth Council applicants, Worcester Reads puts on Smile Day, WPI profs rank first nationally

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McGovern trumpets $583K for MassDiGI, $327K for WPD, $300K for housing initiatives

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern’s office announced last week nearly $2.8 million in federal funding for Massachusetts, about $1.2 million earmarked for Worcester.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern

Office of Congressman Jim McGovern

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern

On Thursday, he announced a five-year, $583,000 University Center program grant for MassDiGI (Massachusetts Digital Games Institute) at Becker College. Those funds were awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The new federal funding will support MassDiGI’s ongoing efforts to promote entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the state’s video and digital games ecosystem. This is the second such grant for MassDiGI from the competitive University Center program. The first was awarded in September 2011.

“The work MassDiGI does in leveraging our state’s strengths in higher education, technology, innovation and creativity continues to stand out,” McGovern said. “This EDA grant will give MassDiGI the chance to level up their ability to have an even greater impact. I’ve seen their work firsthand and I’m excited for what the next five years will bring.”

“As chair of the MassDiGI Advisory Board, I am extremely pleased that we have been selected again by the EDA for funding,” Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D, said. “MassDiGI is one-of-a-kind and delivers tremendous value to the many students, faculty, startups and industry professionals it reaches each year, be they on campus, here in Worcester or throughout the Commonwealth – and increasingly, across the country and around the world.”

“Our city’s future is brighter because of the work they do in helping to foster the growth of our local game development community,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said.

Also on Thursday, McGovern announced the city will receive $327,312 from the U.S. Department of Justice to support the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) Project East, part of Worcester’s anti-gang and community policing efforts. The funding is through the FY 2016 Comprehensive Anti-Gang Strategies and Programs.

“With this grant, Worcester Police will be able to continue their work to reduce gang violence and prevent gang initiation among high-risk youth in Worcester’s Eastside neighborhoods,” McGovern said.

“I want to thank Congressman Jim McGovern for his advocacy for these funds that will be used, in part, to work with high-risk youth and provide them with healthy alternatives to gang activities,” Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said.

McGovern and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey announced Friday $1,873,778 in new federal funding for fair housing initiatives in Massachusetts. The funding comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and includes $300,000 for Community Legal Aid, Inc. in Worcester. The grant is through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to assist victims of housing discrimination.

“Every family needs a roof over their head and a safe place to call home. Community Legal Aid in Worcester and fair housing organizations across Massachusetts play a vital role in our communities by working to prevent discrimination in housing,” McGovern said.

Read the entire story about the University Center program grant on the MassDiGI website. Read the entire stories about the SSYI grant and the HUD funding on Congressman McGovern’s website

Applications open for City Manager’s Youth Council

The city of Worcester’s Youth Opportunities Office is recruiting applicants for its 2016-2017 City Manager’s Youth Council. Applications and student nominations are due Oct. 14.


The Youth Council was created in January 2012 to establish a representative body of young people living in the city entering the 9th and 10th grade. The Youth Council gives young people a direct connection to local government and Youth Councilors take part in civic engagement, leadership development, and planning and decision making opportunities.

More information is available here, and an application form is here

Worcester Reads to hold World Smile Day event

Worcester Reads is excited to announce a special World Smile Day® event on Friday, Oct. 7.

Over the past three years, Worcester has celebrated its love of smiles and reading. This year, Worcester Reads partners, including Edward Street Child Services, Worcester Family Partnership and Worcester Historical Museum, are teaming up to offer a Morning of Smiles at the Worcester Historical Museum.

From 10 a.m. to noon the museum will offer complimentary entrance to families when accompanied by a child, who will be admitted free. “We are delighted to welcome Worcester children and their families as our guests for a morning of fun as we celebrate World Smile Day,” said Bill Wallace, Executive Director of the Worcester Historical Museum.

A special children’s program will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will include a children’s book reading and book giveaway, visit from Smiley, a Smile Sing-a-Long with Chuck, and several craft projects. Children can make their own smile buttons, smile puppets and draw a picture of what makes them smile about Worcester. A special guest community hero will lead a group reading.

“Children, books and smiles are a perfect combination. We know the most important 20 minutes a day is reading with your child. World Smile Day® helps us highlight the joy of sharing, caring and reading together,” commented Kim Davenport, Co-Chair of Worcester Reads at Edward Street Child Services.

Read the entire story on the Worcester Reads website

WPI ranked top in the nation for quality and accessibility of professors

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking has devised a new ratings system that strives to recognize universities focused on doing an outstanding job of educating students, unlike many other rankings which applaud universities for simply being exclusive. This new ranking is specifically focused on the teaching performance of U.S.-based colleges with over 1,000 students.

WPI logo

Within this ranking, WPI has rated first in the nation for the category of  “The Top Faculties; Schools that do the Best in Combining Scholarly Research with Classroom Instruction.”

The article “Great Research, Great Teaching,” which appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Wall Street Journal, noted that, “Some schools hire brilliant professors whose research expand the boundaries of their academic discipline. Others attract great teachers who inspire and engage their students. A handful, like Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and Pomona College in California, can boast they offer both.”

The article also noted that “To gauge both the quality and accessibility of professors, The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking looked at how many research papers per faculty member each school produced and asked student to rate on scale of 0 to 10 how accessible their professors were to them and to what extent the school provided them with opportunities for collaborative learning.”

Senior Vice President Kristin Tichenor was interviewed for this article and The Wall Street Journal reported her saying that “the school had long prided itself on the accessibility of its faculty but had a rude awakening about eight years ago, when a national engagement survey showed that first-year students didn’t share that sentiment. In response, the school created the Great Problems Seminar, a project-based class taught by senior faculty that challenges students to solve some of the world’s most daunting challenges, like energy production or water contamination. Students are organized in teams with members from across disciplines, and their final product is tested in the real world.”

Read the entire Wall Street Journal story

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