Strengthening elementary and secondary education

Brown is helping in multiple ways to strengthen Rhode Island’s schools and to expand educational opportunities for Rhode Island students. For example:

  • Since 2000, Brown has been working with the William D’Abate Elementary School to meet the needs of children in the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence. The Brown-D’Abate partnership has been especially strong since 2008, when the School asked the University to take on the management of its after-school program, called the D’Abate Community School. In the spring of 2012, 208 D’Abate students participated in 40 different after-school “clubs,” involving activities ranging from science experiments to the arts to soccer. The Community School also provides daily homework assistance.

    The director of the after-school program is employed by the Swearer Center (the focal point for many of the University’s community engagement activities, described below), and in the spring of 2012 about 100 Brown students provided about 500 hours per week of volunteer work in the program. Since 2009 the D’Abate Community School has also offered a summer camp, with about 125 children participating in a six-week program of enrichment and recreational activities.

    Brown’s partnership with the D’Abate School is manifested in other ways as well, including a Swearer Center program in which Brown undergraduates are trained to work during the school day as in-classroom tutors, focusing on helping to build students’ literacy skills. Brown students also provide ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) training at D’Abate for neighborhood adults.

    While Brown’s partnership with D’Abate is particularly close, it is not unique. In the spring of 2012, the Swearer Center had 13 employees working full-time in urban public schools in Rhode Island, coordinating and overseeing the work of more than 400 Brown student volunteers.

  • The College Advising Corps at Brown (the local campus affiliate of a national organization) seeks to increase the number of low- to moderate-income high school students who go on to earn bachelor’s degrees by providing guidance to students in the college application process and in securing financial aid. In 2011-2012, twelve Americorps members worked full-time and ten worked part-time as college advisors in eleven urban high schools in Rhode Island. They were supported by a team of 70 Brown undergraduate volunteers who assisted students with SAT preparation, essay-writing and exploring financial aid options.

    In 2011-2012, the College Advising Corps (CAC) served 5,466 Rhode Island high school students in individual advisory sessions, 70 percent of whom were from low-income families, and 80 percent members of minority groups. Forty percent of these students, should they go to college, would be the first in their families to do so. CAC also worked more intensively with 1,092 seniors, about two-thirds of whom submitted at least one college application.

  • In 2009, Brown faculty members worked closely with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to develop a new school funding formula. The new formula was based on detailed analysis of the resources needed to ensure that children learn, while at the same time distributing funds equitably and maintaining fiscal discipline. The new formula – which has the effect of targeting resources to the urban school districts where they are most needed – was enacted into law in 2011.
  • In February 2007, Brown President Ruth J. Simmons announced creation of The Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence (FECP), with the goal of raising a $10-million endowed fund to support local public schools and students. FECP is focused on three core areas:
    • Academic learning and achievement;
    • Preparation for higher education and the workforce and
    • Social, artistic, and civic development.

    A total of $1.5 million has been raised to date, and since 2009, the Fund has awarded a total of $232,557 for initiatives such as strengthening early literacy programs and upgrading school wireless networks.

Through programs such as these Brown is working toward the goal of helping Rhode Island’s next generation acquire the skills they will need to participate in the growth of a knowledge-based economy, and to take advantage of the opportunities that economy offers.