Under-Resourced Youth

Berkshire Farm Center

Organization LiaisonJulie Brennan [email protected]

CLiA staff liaison: Paula Consolini  [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 Julie Brennan or Paula Consolini for more information.

Black STEM Association

Student Leaders: Michelle Laker (mpl3) & Cynthia Masese (ckm2)
Faculty/Staff Advisor: Pamela Harris

The Black Science Technology Engineering and Math Student Association (BSTEM) aims to create a safe and supportive space in which Black and other underrepresented students are encouraged to continue their studies in STEM fields, and can freely speak of their experiences in these fields. This support system for underserved groups in STEM is essential to helping support these students interested in the sciences and combat the effects of the discrimination that they may experience while navigating STEM courses.

Brayton Elementary After School Tutoring

Student Leaders: Emma Paquette ([email protected])
Faculty/Staff Adviser: Molly Polk

The objective of Brayton Afterschool Tutoring Program is to provide assistance to the afterschool programming in the North Adams schools, bringing student energy into disadvantaged classrooms. Tutors work with students one-on-one or in small groups to improve their reading skills. Tutors also provide program support for the teachers’ planned activities, such as arts and crafts, board games, dance, or sports.

 

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: Bless Reece (bkr2) & Kaylen Smith (kds6)
Faculty/Staff Advisor: Paula Consolini

Converging Worlds is a student organization advocating against racial injustice in our court and carceral systems that works through organizing workshops, information sessions, speakers, and other events to bridge the gap between those in and outside of the criminal justice system.

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 (Educational Opportunities for Success) Mentoring

This student-run program provides mentoring support for under-resourced high school students in the Pittsfield Public School District’s alternative learning facility. The mission of the program, established in 2017, is to build relationships with high school students whose voices are often ignored and whose feelings are frequently invalidated. Mentors strive to serve as consistent, positive role models who listen and show interest in these teenagers. In addition to mentoring, EOS promotes and conducts trauma-informed trainings with the goal of equipping local educators, mentors, resource officers, and student workers with the knowledge and strategies to more effectively serve and support students who have been affected by trauma. To apply or for more information, contact Asha Sandler ’24 ([email protected]).

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: Myla Denger (med6) & Jaeeun Lee (jl35)
Faculty/Staff Advisor: Courtney Oben

Matriculate is a student-led group where college students are paired with low-income, high-achieving high school students to help them make the leap to the best colleges and universities. We train talented Williams College students to connect virtually with high-achieving, low-income high school students, providing the information, guidance, and support that these high school students need to navigate the college process.

 

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].

QuestBridge Scholars Network

For information for QuestBridge-affiliated students, please visit the Williams Admissions website.

Student Leaders: Onyeka Obi
Faculty/Staff Adviser: April Ruiz
Meeting Time/Place: Hollander 101

The primary purpose of the Williams QuestBridge Scholars Network is to provide a coherent support system for entering and continuing QuestBridge-affiliated Scholars at Williams College. However, while the Williams QSN functions as a place of support for low-income and first-generation students, many of its services benefit students from all backgrounds; all students are welcome to participate in the QSN’s events. Through the Williams QSN, students have an opportunity to meet others with similar life experiences through frequent social events and gatherings. With an emphasis on service, community building, and student mentorship, the QSN strives to continue our greater organization’s goal of seeing disadvantaged students thrive and give back.

Racial Justice Curriculum Development Initiative

This community engagement program, initially run online due to the COVID pandemic during 2020-2021 and in a hybrid format during Summer 2021 and beyond, is designed to serve Williams students’ civic aspirations by providing the opportunity to engage in racial justice work in partnership with local schools and Berkshire County-based advocacy organizations.  

Additional Information & Resources:

https://learning-in-action.williams.edu/opportunities/racial-justice-curriculum-development-initiative/

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.

Sentinels Summer Public Policy Research Fellowship

This U.S. public policy research program supports student research projects focused on contemporary issues in U.S. economic, social, and/or environmental policy, including but not limited to community and regional development, regulation, inequality, and/or processes and powers of the American Government at any level.  Sentinels Fellows are awarded research funding based primarily upon their written project proposal.

Additional Information & Application:

https://learning-in-action.williams.edu/opportunities/sentinels-summer-research-fellowship/

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 [email protected]

Williams Homeless Outreach

Student Leaders: Julia Cheng ([email protected]u), 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 Leaders: Taylor McClennen (tm8) & Sarah Dean (srd5)
Faculty/Staff Advisor: Colin Ovitsky

Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus (WRAPS) works at the intersection of food insecurity and food waste, employing a two-part model that connects the Williams College campus with the North Adams community. Our model focuses on recovering surplus dining hall food and packaging it into meals for the community. We strive to unite students and local organizations in working to improve the accessibility, resiliency, and sustainability of the local food system.