December 7, 2016

Inbox [Dec. 7]: Becker adds to financial leadership team, Clark’s LEEP wins national honor, Worcester State study eyes Latino men opportunity gap, UniBank announces Invest Worcester

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LEEP Center staff

Courtesy Clark University

Staff members from the LEEP Center at Clark University, from left: Kristina Nguyen, Jessica Bane Robert, Michelle Bata, Vickie Cox-Lanyon, Brian Hanna, Adriane van Gils-Pierce, Connie Whitehead Hanks, Andrea Tymeson.

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Becker hires new executive director, leadership giving

Jane Grant of Worcester has been hired as the executive director of leadership giving, Becker College announced.

“Jane brings with her an extensive knowledge of both the Worcester community and advancement services,” said Colleen Bielitz ,Ph.D., vice president of institutional advancement and chief business development officer at Becker. “Her energy and expertise are vital to building our advancement team to meet the needs of our growing institution.”

Jane Grant

Courtesy Becker College

Jane Grant

Grant previously served as the director of leadership giving at Worcester State University. She worked as a member of the advancement leadership team, building and enhancing relationships with all constituents for the purpose of increasing financial support to the university. She was also responsible for all areas of alumni donor fundraising.

Grant also worked as the director of development and communications for the Worcester County Food Bank in Shrewsbury, as the director of major gifts at the American Red Cross of Central Mass. and as an events manager at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Grant holds a bachelor of arts degree from Clark University and a certificate from Paris-Sorbonne University, Paris, France.


First-year experience support at Clark ‘setting the standard for excellence’

The LEEP Center advising model at Clark University recently was recognized by the National Resource Center with the annual Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award.

July 10-Clark logo

The National Resource Center annually honors “institutions that have designed and implemented outstanding collaborative initiatives enhancing significant transitions during the undergraduate experience” and which demonstrate “the effectiveness of the initiative in supporting student success, learning, and development at a variety of transition points beyond the first college year.”

Clark University’s LEEP Center advising model is one of only two institutions to receive the 2016 Excellence for Students in Transition Award; the other is the Educational Opportunity Programs at Goodwin College.

“I am so proud of the LEEP Center offices and staff for being recognized with this award. The LEEP Center advising model is a truly holistic and developmental approach to student professional development. It integrates best practices and key insights from the areas of academic advising, experiential learning, and career counseling in a manner that supports Clark’s LEEP approach to undergraduate education,” said Michelle Bata, Associate Dean and Director of the LEEP Center.

As a dynamic resource for Clark students, LEEP advisers collaborate with academic and University offices, employers, community and institutional partners, alumni, and families to connect students with life-changing opportunities and prepare them to become informed contributors in an ever-changing global society.

The LEEP Center at Clark connects students with, and prepares them for, transformative experiences that can be leveraged for future opportunities. LEEP Center offices and programs offer holistic advising, a range of pre-professional and civic opportunities, and a variety of resources and services designed to foster capacities of effective practice in an effort to prepare students for life after Clark.

Read the entire story on the Clark University website


Worcester State researchers complete study of opportunity gap among Latino men

Researchers at Worcester State University and MIT set out to examine why fewer than six percent of Latino young men who enter ninth grade in the Commonwealth’s urban areas complete a four-year course of study at the college level. Some of the major findings of a year-long research study, In Search of Opportunity: Latino Men’s Paths to Post-Secondary Education in Urban Massachusetts, are:

  • Many Latino young men do not view higher education as a prerequisite to achieving their aspirations;
  • Many parents and students are debt-averse, which prompts them to see higher education as out of reach;
  • Middle school is a defining yet difficult period for youth that for a variety of reasons can push students away from the path to a 4-year college credential;
  • Latino communities routinely face multiple stressors such as poverty, low English-language proficiency, and high mobility, that negatively affect school attendance, students’ ability to focus, and other factors that impact a student’s hope for academic advancement.

Authored by Thomas Conroy, Ph.D., Mary Jo Marion, and Timothy Murphy, Ph.D., all from Worcester State, and Elizabeth Setren from MIT, the report focuses on five Massachusetts cities — Worcester, Boston, Springfield, Holyoke and Lawrence.

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, the report offers vivid narratives of the complicated lives of these young men. According to Conroy, chair and assistant professor of Urban Studies at WSU, “From the beginning we set out to push beyond a statistical study by infusing the numbers with real-life stories.  Some of the stories are inspiring and others are tragic, but all are important in order to gain an understanding of  the complexities at work here.”

Mary Jo Marion, assistant vice president of urban affairs and executive director of the Latino Education Institute at WSU, noted: “The study amplifies the voices of young men of color in our urban communities and points to areas of change, including K-12 reforms, increased economic stability, and making higher education responsive to the real-life goals and dilemmas encountered by urban youth.”

Murphy, an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and the study’s lead researcher, said, “Listening to Latino men talk about their future aspirations throughout their lives, beginning from the time they were young, provided much insight into the interplay of different domains of their lives, from families, to peers, to institutions of education. This method allowed us to capture a nuanced understanding of the men’s relationship to higher education, revealing the need for specific types of intervention and more in-depth research on local communities.”

WSU President Barry M. Maloney has expressed strong support for Worcester State’s research in this area. “This report helps us better understand why underrepresented groups such as Latino men are not completing college at the same rate as other groups,” he said. “Worcester State University’s research in this area provides some clues about why this happens, and some directions for addressing the achievement gap. Education leaders at all levels can learn from this.”

The report can be found on the Worcester State University website


UniBank launches Invest Worcester program

UniBank has announced the launch of a new socially responsible banking program called Invest Worcester. A banking program that will bring the community together to build a better Worcester.

At the heart of the program is UniBank’s Invest Worcester Savings Account. This account has been designed specifically for Worcester to address three key areas of concern: homeownership, community development, and small business development.

Available to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and Worcester municipalities, the Invest Worcester Savings Account offers customers a premium rate of interest. Funds deposited into the account will be leveraged by the bank to provide lending options in Worcester to advance homeownership rate, help small businesses prosper, and to stabilize neighborhoods. UniBank is launching Invest Worcester by committing to lend at least $5 million to help achieve this goal.

“As a community bank, we understand the importance of reinvested back into our local community and we are excited to play a role in the current economic resurgence of the great City of Worcester,” UniBank President and CEO William M. Mahoney said. “With the Invest Worcester Program, we are committed to ensuring at least $5 million in mortgages, small business loans, and community development financing is made in Worcester to make this City an even greater place to live and work.”

Invest Worcester goes beyond being a banking program. UniBank’s Matthew Wally, vice president of government and community affairs announced that UniBank has made $35,000 in grants to four nonprofits who are helping to grow Worcester’s economy. Those include: Worcester Community Housing Resources, Main South CDC, Oak Hill CDC, and Worcester Common Ground.

“We are fortunate to have such strong partners in our community,” Wally said. “Gateway cities like Worcester benefit from partnerships that are formed among our for-profit entities, our nonprofit entities, and our government entities. We believe Invest Worcester will act as a catalyst for these types of partnerships.”

Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Timothy Murray said, “Access to capital is cited as one of the most important factors for growth of an economy. UniBank’s Invest Worcester program not only increases capital, but it does so through partnerships with local deposit holders. I am excited for the future impact of this program.”

Learn more about Invest Worcester on UniBank’s website

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