Summer Community Engagement

Summer Program in Holyoke and SpringfieldSummer Session-

Though summer is a much quieter time in terms of my involvement with service learning and community engagement there are some fun things that have been offered, like Circuits and Beats.

Circuits and Beats is a summer outreach program that has been sponsored for 2 summers by UMass Amherst- Electrical and Computer Engineering, with support from UMass Civic Engagement & Service-Learning, and involves planning and conducting 2-week camp sessions, in Holyoke and Springfield, for middle school youth from under-resourced communities.

During the camp sessions the participants were introduced to basic principles of circuits and programming and careers such as engineering, computer science and information technology. They were also engaged in college positive activities, including an all day campus tour.

My invovlement has included several things:

First, I wrote the grant proposal that supplied funding for 3 UMass undergraduates to work in the program as AmeriCorps staff members for 8 weeks. Once that was secured I was able to move forwarded and connect the program staff with our community partners – the Boys and Girls Club of Holyoke and the MLK Center in Springfield, as well as conduct the service learning orientations and trainings for the C & B staff.

It was wonderful to visit the program in action, see how engaged the youth were and hear their reactions to all they were learning.

The goal now is to stay connected with these youth and the two community organizations, providing on-going access to Circuits and Beats type programming and connections to UMass. One way we do that is through an education course called Multicultural Education. In this course over 80 undergraduates per semester attend a weekly class session and one afternoon each week they serve as tutor/mentors in after school programs in the Holyoke community. Hopefully a few years from now, some of these youth will be on campus as full time undergrads!

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