April 16, 2017

Inbox [April 16]: News and notes from WPI, Main IDEA, LIFT, YWCA, Clark and St. Peter-Marian

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Courtesy MainIDEA

Main IDEA is a weeklong summer arts education program now run out of Clark's Atwood Hall.

WPI lands $5M grant

The Baker-Polito Administration announced a $5 million matching grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to support the launch of a new landmark healthcare research and product development initiative called PracticePoint at WPI.

The award from MassTech’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program will match contributions from WPI and private sector stakeholders, including GE Healthcare Life Sciences, and fund new integrated research and development labs focused on the commercialization of secure healthcare devices and systems.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the grant at a ceremony in Worcester, alongside WPI President Laurie Leshin and Ann R. Klee, Vice President of Boston Development and Operations at GE.

“Imagine new ways to treat inoperable tumors, new systems that allow elders to remain at home safely, or smart devices that speed rehabilitative care — these are just some of the extraordinary technologies we hope will emerge when we bring together creative engineers, scientists and clinicians to work in the novel setting that PracticePoint provides,” Leshin said.

“PracticePoint at WPI will help ensure Massachusetts continues as a global leader in digital healthcare and the innovation economy,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.

“This exciting new facility will offer space for researchers to explore new opportunities and technology like never before,” Polito said. “By integrating medical labs with manufacturing and testing, PracticePoint at WPI will deliver new innovations and make the Worcester region a leader in delivering the next generation of healthcare advancements and jobs.”

“Worcester is already a leader in robotics, healthcare delivery, and the life sciences,” Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash said. “PracticePoint at WPI will build on that expertise, and create a vibrant new economic engine in the heart of Massachusetts.”

Read the entire story on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website

WPI announces commencement speakers

WPI announced its honored speakers for the 2017 Commencement ceremonies. Since 2016, the university has held two distinct exercises to celebrate the accomplishments of its undergraduate and graduate students.

Wikimedia Commons/sdokaf

WPI’s Beech Tree

Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, will deliver the graduate commencement address on Thursday, May 11. The Council consists of university presidents, chief executive officers, labor leaders and national lab directors working together to shape policies and programs to jump-start productivity and grow America’s economy. Wince-Smith will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Rodney Brooks, chairman and CTO of Rethink Robotics, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on Saturday, May 13. Rethink Robotics is a manufacturing company dedicated to making robotics more accessible, usable and practical. The company is also known for its collaborative robots Baxter and Sawyer, both of which were designed to make manufacturing processes more automatic, affordable and safe. Brooks also will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Read the entire story on the WPI website

Worcester nonprofits vie for national prize

Two area nonprofits are among the organizations vying for the USA Today Network’s A Community Thrives (ACT) contest, where the top prize is $100,000.

Worcester-based nonprofit Living in Freedom Together (LIFT) is a survivor-led mission to provide resources, advocacy and support to empower individuals to exit and recover from the impacts of commercial sexual exploitation.

In 2016, LIFT served 92 women. LIFT services include a drop-in center for victims of street-level prostitution and trafficking, provides advocacy for criminal justice involved survivors, and provides re-entry services for incarcerated survivors.

Nicole Bell and Mayor Petty

Courtesy Nicole Bell

Nicole Bell with Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty at the January 2016 National Human Trafficking Awareness Day event at City Hall.

According to its entry, a vote for its entry, Healing with Hope and Dignity “would allow us to expand critical resources for these women as well as assist in re-entry services for women looking to exit commercial sexual exploitation.”

Click here to view the video of LIFT’s entry and vote.

Only in the Sun: In Her Own Words: Nicole Bell, A survivor’s story

Render Creative, which empowers youth by encouraging self-expression through quality accessible arts programs, has nominated its “Main IDEA” urban youth and arts program.

The free weeklong summer arts program works with multi-ethnic youth ages 8 to 12 in Main South, offering exposure to the arts at no cost to their families on campus at Clark University.

Main IDEA partners with local artists, businesses and organizations to offer a variety of art disciplines: Music, Creative Drama, Creative Writing, Dance, and Visual Art.

According to its research, “approximately 63% of the students of the Main South schools we work with are economically disadvantaged, and 59% of them are English Language Learners. Although they face steep challenges we know that our kids are capable of great success. Our dream is to receive enough funding to expand our program to an even bigger number of students and for a duration longer than one week.”

Sloane M. Perron / For Worcester Sun

Joy Murrieta

Click here to view the video of Main IDEAs entry and vote

Check out our Sun Shine feature: Main IDEA paints a new picture of opportunity

A Community Thrives (ACT) enables community members to act on ideas that improve the people, organizations, government and businesses around them by equipping them with the resources they need to thrive.

It is a nationwide program that provides the resources necessary for philanthropic missions in our communities to succeed. We’re empowering community members to take on local challenges and share these ideas on a national platform. Because from local to national, even the smallest idea can thrive into something greater.

The National Voting Period began April 12 and ends on May 12. The top 10 voted submissions in each category will be reviewed by a panel of judges. The panel will determine the top three applicants in each category who will be awarded grants of either $50,000 or $100,000 each.

YWCA announces Erskine Award winners

The YWCA of Central Massachusetts has announced recipients of the 2017 Katharine F. Erskine Award.

Elizabeth Bacon, coordinator of  The Clemente Course in the Humanities, is the Arts & Culture winner.

Fallon Health Senior Vice President and Chief Communication Officer Christine Cassidy is the recipient in the Business & Law category.

Community volunteer Ginger Navickas is the Community, Social Service & Government recipient.

Mary Jo Marion-Farrell is the Education winner. She is assistant vice president for urban affairs & executive director of the Latino Education Institute at Worcester State University.

Sara Connor, a family nurse practitioner and manager of the UMass Memorial Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, is the recipient in the Health, Science & Technology category.

They will be honored at the annual Tribute to Women noon-1:30 p.m. May 2 at Mechanics Hall.

More information and registration is available on the YWCA Central Mass. website

Clark prof receives Guggenheim Fellowship

John Aylward, associate professor of music composition and theory at the Clark University Department of Visual and Performing Arts, received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship. He is one of 173 current fellows representing scholars, artists and scientists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, selected from among more than 3,000 applicants.

Professor Aylward is a composer, conductor and performer of piano, drawing inspiration from a range of philosophical and poetic sources. His music comprises solo works, chamber music, orchestral work, and music for film.

Courtesy Clark University

John Aylward, associate professor of music composition and theory at Clark University

The 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship is only the latest in a career of high notes. Earlier this year, Aylward received a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation, and he has current assignments from members of Klangforum Wien, Amanda Bartlett, Samuel Solomon and Keiko Murakami.

Aylward’s honors include a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from Harvard University; a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress; a Fulbright Grant to Germany; and First Prize from the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). He also received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Tanglewood, the Aspen Music School, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Aylward received a Ph.D. in music composition and theory, as well as an M.F.A. at Brandeis University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance, with honors, at the University of Arizona.

Read the entire story on the Clark University website

SPM names Monfreda girls ice hockey coach

The St. Peter-Marian athletic department announced the hiring of Jay Monfreda as girls ice hockey coach for the 2017 season.

Monfreda, a Millbury native and SPM alum, joins the St. Peter-Marian coaching staff after serving the past eight seasons at Algonquin Regional High School. Over his four-year tenure as the head coach at Algonquin, Monfreda posted an overall record of 34-39-11, including a pair of district tournament qualifications.

“I am very happy to be coming back home to SPM,” Monfreda said. “I am excited for the opportunity to build the girls hockey program from the ground up and build it into a successful one.”

St. Peter-Marian will be partnering with the Worcester Railers Hockey Club to create a state-of-the-art home for the St. Peter-Marian boys’ and girls’ hockey programs. The $18 million, two-sheet facility, which will also include two restaurants and retail space, is due to open in the heart of the Canal District later this year.

Read the entire story on the St. Peter-Marian athletics website

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