UMass CESL promotes learning for life-long, engaged citizenship, partnering with communities on and off campus to work collectively for a more just society.

Equity in Education

Schools are integral not only to preparing all children to be full participants in society, but also to be full participants in this country's ever-tenuous experiment in democracy. That this vision has yet to be fully realized does not mean it should be abandoned.” - Rethinking Schools

UMass Amherst has a long tradition of partnering with local school districts and community organizations to improve educational equity in neighboring communities.  Our partnerships support students from a wide range of backgrounds, including underrepresented minority, low income students, and students living with various disabilities. The goals are: inclusion and success at all grade levels, earning a high school diploma or GED, accessing higher education, and successfully completing undergraduate degrees or technical training certification. A number of community-engaged courses and programs support these goals. UMass also has an Upward Bound program for high school students in Springfield, Massachusetts. Many UMass students support the work of Upward Bound program through CMASS, through Service-Learning courses such as Student Bridges and the Journalism Department's courses in Community Journalism. Many other students engage in this effort through programs run by CESL, or other departments, as well as individual courses.  See examples below.


What we do at CESL

CESL supports an array of courses and programs, both within CESL and across the campus, focused on educational equity by building and maintaining long-term partnerships with community organizations and school districts, consulting with faculty, and preparing student leaders.   Initiatives supported by CESL include tutoring/mentoring K-12 students in after school programs and local schools, mentoring youth as “Little Brothers and Sisters”, supporting adult learners with earning a GED or improving their English language skills and advancing school-based technology skills for school administrators, teachers, staff and students.

In the words of one student:

Lauren DuBois (UMass ’11)

As an undergrad at UMass, I was accepted into the year-long Student Bridges (SB) service learning course as a Tutor/Mentor in an after-school program in Springfield, MA at the South End Community Center (SECC).   The focus was on Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) and college positive activities, reaching youth ages 11-14.  In the SB course I learned how race, class, and other factors impact student access to quality education and through my service I witnessed first-hand the importance of educational programs such as the SET program.

A year later, I was hired by SB as a Site Coordinator to oversee the SECC Site.  The responsibilities I had that year pushed my confidence and shaped my future goals. I knew that I wanted to remain a core member of the community partnerships in order to promote, organize and deliver educational programs.

After I graduated, I was hired as that 4-H Extension Educator to oversee the Springfield SET program. Working with Student Bridges and the Massachusetts 4-H Extension Youth Development Program has been a life changing experience. I now have a career that pushes me to grow positively every day. I am doing what I love.

Service-learning is all about relationships. In the process of building those relationships one is also building a relationship with themselves and the world around them.

Examples of Equity in Education Related Courses/Programs

EDUC 377 – Introduction to Multicultural Education (Laura Valdiviezo and others)
EDUC 497I/597R – Tutoring in Schools - TEAMS Project (Sharon Edwards, Robert Maloy)
JOURNAL 394C – Community Journalism (Nicholas McBride)
SPANISH 398A – Holyoke Practicum (Gloria Bernabe-Ramos, Jose Ornelas)
SRVCLRNG 292M – Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters (Thomas McGuire)
SRVCLRNG 293 –Learning Through Community Engagement - Student Bridges (various instructors)
SRVCLRNG 398A – Athletes as Mentors (Tamara Drummond, Joan Hopkins)

Citizen Scholars Program - equity is at the core of this 4-course, 4-semester program. Community partner sites related to education are available. 

The Boltwood Project- this program focuses on opportunites and barriers for people living with various types of disabilties. Some of the community sites focus on equity and inclusive educational opportunities.