At-Risk Youth

Berkshire Farm Center

Student Liaison:  Isha Singh ([email protected])

Williams at Berkshire Farm Center (WBFC) works with at-risk youth both on and off campus. These youth come from Berkshire Farm Center (BFC), a residential treatment center in Canaan, NY. They are males ages 12-18 who have committed some sort of minor infraction and have been court-ordered to stay at BFC for a designated amount of time. In the past, Williams volunteers met with the youth for a few hours on weekends, alternating between visiting BFC and hosting activities on campus. At Berkshire, the club has participated in rope course activities, gone on a nature scavenger hunt, and met the farm animals. At Williams, the group has stepped with Sankofa, learned about the 3-D printer in Sawyer Library, played basketball, and written poetry with Speakfree.  During Winter Study ’16, Williams students Isha Singh ’18 and Skylar Smith ’18 conducted research for Berkshire Farm Center and explored the potential for future collaboration with Williams.  Groups and individuals interested in participating should contact Isha for more information.

Brayton Elementary After School Tutoring

Student Leaders: Christine Tanna ([email protected])
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Molly Polk
Meeting Time/Place: Monday-Friday at Brayton and Colgrove Elementary

Volunteers work at the elementary schools in North Adams to help with the after school programs for kindergarten-7th grade students. Many of the programs start with reading or homework help and have themed games or projects. We work one-on-one with the kids or help with group activities.

 

Break Out Trips

In 2013-2014, the Chaplains’ Office and Center for Learning in Action began coordinating funding and advising for Break Out Trips over spring break that involve projects in and beyond the Berkshires region.  A general interest survey, detailed advice, guidelines, timetable, a Proposal Form, Budget Calculator, and additional resources are available at learning-in-action.williams.edu/opportunities/bot.

CLiA Community Outreach Summer Fellowship

This paid summer program trains a small team of Williams students to help build better community service and experiential learning opportunities at Williams.  The selected rising Sophomores and Juniors are initially oriented to the Berkshires and trained in key skill areas before spending the balance of their time immersed and leading others in community engagement work.  This 8-week, 35-hour/week position reports to the CLiA Director.

Additional Information & Application:

learning-in-action.williams.edu/opportunities/community-outreach-summer-fellowship

 

Converging Worlds

Student Leaders: Emma York
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Paula Consolini
Meeting Time/Place: Wednesdays 7PM, Zilkha Center Reading Room

Converging Worlds  (CW) is a student organization which was created to raise awareness about racial injustice in our court and carceral systems. Through penpal relationships with currently incarcerated, queer people, a transformative justice mentorship program at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, MA, the publication of SUMMIT – a magazine dedicated to the sharing of concrete ideas for community programming in Berkshire County, and a social activist speaker series, CW seeks to end the school-to-prison pipeline and think critically about alternatives to our current carceral state.

Facebook
CW Facebook Page

Education Outreach

For 20+ years, Williams has partnered with our local educators to create hands-on programming that serve the needs of the children and their families in a host of Berkshire County schools in the areas of science, writing, mentoring, homework help and more. Currently, more than 350 students participate and serve in K-12 schools in paid and volunteer positions in Williamstown, Lanesborough, North Adams and Pittsfield. We welcome your involvement and ideas, and look forward to hearing from you! Please visit the Education Outreach section of our website for more information.

EOS Mentoring for At-Risk Youth

Student Leaders: Michael Crisci
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Paula Consolini
Meeting Time/Place: Twice a week to go to EOS in Pittsfield

EOS mentors at-risk high school students in Pittsfield. We do job application, writing, and other various workshops to help provide them with real-world skills.

Give It Up!

Students collect clothing, books, & other leftovers from fellow students at year’s end. Donations of appliances, household goods and clothing are sold in the Tag sale at First Congregational Church and the ABC (A Better Community) Clothing Sale in September.  Proceeds from these sales benefit local charitable organizations and initiatives such as the Louison House Homeless Shelter and the Friendship Center Food Pantry. Donated food, personal care products and cleaning supplies are brought to St. Patrick’s food pantry. Proceeds from the sale of donated books benefit Education for Konyango a project organized by Williams students to support educational initiatives of the Konyango Mboto community in rural Kenya.

The 2017 ABC Clothing Sale raised over $37,000! The following local community organizations were the beneficiaries of the proceeds:

  • Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Program
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center
  • Friendship Center Food Pantry
  • Kids 4 Harmony
  • Louison House
  • North Adams Summer Youth Works Program
  • Roots Teen Center
  • Williamstown Food Pantry

Additional Information & Opportunities:

learning-in-action.williams.edu/opportunities/give-it-up

Matriculate

Student Leaders: Jamie Kasulis
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Paula Consolini
Meeting Time/Place: Weekly in Schapiro

Matriculate is an education access nonprofit based in NYC. The Williams chapter recruits Williams College students to become volunteer college advisers for low-to-moderate income high school students from around the country. The group undergoes training and professional development via Matriculate and often with support from Williams Office of Admissions, and meets weekly to learn college advising content and skills.

Matriculate Website

 

Mohawk Forest Mentoring Program

Student Leaders: Julia Yarak ’18 ([email protected])

Faculty/Staff Adviser: Paula Consolini

Meeting Time/Place: Monday-Friday 3-5 PM

The Mohawk Forest program takes Williams students most weekday afternoons (3-5pm) to Mohawk Forest, an affordable housing community in North Adams. At the Mohawk Forest Community Center, we help children on their homework, play games, make crafts, and serve as mentors for the kids. It is a great opportunity to get out of the “purple bubble” and interact with children and teens in the community who really benefit from having positive role models in their lives.  For more information, contact the student leaders or the Center for Learning in Action at [email protected].

Reclaim Childhood

Student Leaders: Annie Vanagenen ([email protected]), Allie Holle ([email protected]), Kara Sperry ([email protected]), Julia Diaz ([email protected]), Katherine Rosen ([email protected])
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Christi Kelsey ([email protected])
Meeting Time/Place: Sundays, Paresky

Reclaim Childhood is a non-profit organization based in Amman, Jordan that seeks to empower refugee girls and local women through sport and play. Reclaim Childhood operates regular after-school sports leagues and a month-long summer camp for girls ages 6 – 18, and coaching clinics for local adult women. On campus, we try to devise creative ways to raise money for the organization through dining hall dinners, athletics, and other events. With the money we raise, we send it to the organization which in turn purchases athletic equipment for the girls, as well as funds the summer camps for them. In addition to working during the school year, some of our members have spent their summers in Jordan working as camp counselors at these camps.

The Inside-Out Course and Positive Pathways Partnership (P3)

The Inside Out Course and Positive Pathways Partnership are programs run with the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction in nearby Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The Inside Out Course follows the Inside Out Program model developed at Temple University.  In this model, the course consists of an equal number of college students and inmates learning alongside one another in a seminar taught by a college instructor at the correctional institution. A major goal of the course is to facilitate dialogue across difference,  potentially developing transformative learning experiences for participants.  The program at Williams, begun in 2013 with a course taught by Professor Christian Thorne, was initiated by Gaudino Scholar Magnus Bernhardsson as part of the “Danger Initiative.”  It continues now under the guidance of a faculty advisory team (Professors Keith McPartland, Christian Thorne, Jim Nolan, and Kris Kirby) with administration and financial support from the Center for Learning in Action. For more information on the course, contact CLiA Director Dr. Paula Consolini ([email protected]).

The Positive Pathways Partnership (P3) with the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, begun in 2015, supports educational access for those formerly or currently incarcerated in the Berkshire County House of Correction (BCHOC). In fall 2016, when several Williams students attended an orientation and tour of the facility in Pittsfield, some were taken aback by the new environment they had been invited to tutor in. Still, they were inspired to serve by a recognition of the importance of P3’s mission.

From December 2016 to April 2017, Omar Kawam ’20, Diana Sanchez ’17, and Timothy Suh ’18, drove weekly to the 2nd St. Reentry Office in Pittsfield where they taught a recently released individual Writing, Reading, and Math to pass his HiSET exam. Under the supervision of BCHoC staff, tutoring continued through the summer of 2017 in the Pittsfield correctional facility as two inmates sought to work towards their diplomas.

In addition to the tutoring, a small group of Williams students led by Ted McNally ’20, launched a weekly book discussion group at the BCHoC in the Spring of 2017. Within a few years, inmate participation has grown to as many as 16. Williams students facilitate the discussion of books and short stories chosen by the group as a whole. Maus, Legends of the Fall, and Love and War in California have been among the books read and discussed together.

The tutoring and book discussion group initiatives have grown substantially with the addition of another early evening (5:30-7pm) of tutoring to the Thursday slot and more students volunteering to help facilitate the Friday evening book discussions. After additional recruitment to better serve the tutoring needs both in and outside the jail, Dr. Laura Muller, Williams’ Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support, helped the tutors develop tutoring syllabi and a communication system that helps them work more effectively individually and as a team.

Even as tutoring and mentoring in this setting may be out of some people’s comfort zone, Williams students and inmates alike are grateful for the rewarding shared learning experiences. Along with the regularly taught Inside-Out Williams course, P3 strives to strengthen relations between the two institutions and offer a larger number of individuals hope in the possibility of new beginnings.

For more information, please contact Sharif Rosen ([email protected]).

Williams Homeless Outreach

Student Leaders: Julia Cheng ([email protected]), Aaron Maruzzo ([email protected]), Aaron Goldstein ([email protected])
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Paula Consolini ([email protected]), Jingyi Liu ’14
Meeting Time/Place: Biweekly Mondays 5pm, Paresky 112

Williams Homeless Outreach (WHO) is dedicated to raising campus awareness and enacting systemic change regarding the issues of homelessness and economic disparity, especially as they pertain to the local families of rural Massachusetts. Our club meets biweekly to collaboratively create student-led, philanthropic initiatives that are determined by the interests of the current members of WHO. Additionally, we provide a platform for volunteerism at local non-profits such as, but not limited to, Horizons for Homeless Children, Berkshire Food Project and the Friendship Center Food Pantry.

Facebook
WHO Facebook Page

WHO Intro PowerPoint (PPTX)

WRAPS

Student Leader(s): Marco Vallejos
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Colin Ovitsky
Meeting Time/Place: Paresky kitchen

WRAPS (Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus) packages leftover dining hall food into individual meals made up of a grain, protein, and vegetable. We freeze these meals before delivering them on Fridays to our community partners in North Adams.

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FRN/WRAPS Facebook Page