Tufts recently announced a new partnership between the university’s 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning program and City Year, a Boston-based AmeriCorps program committed to increasing resources and graduate rates for students in high-poverty areas nationally.
The 1+4 program, a Tisch College program currently in its first year, allows undergraduate students to participate in a year of full-time community service before they start their studies at Tufts. The new partnership will allow fellows, who currently serve abroad in Brazil, Nicaragua and Spain, to serve domestically across the country in high-poverty cities beginning in the fall of 2016.
Current 1+4 fellows are participating in a diverse array of volunteer activities, from caring for rescued wild animals to contributing to renewable energy and sustainability projects, according to the program website. The City Year fellowship, however, will focus on education.
Program participants will attempt to bridge the gap between the needs of students in high-poverty areas and the resources that are provided to them, according to the City Year website. Fellows will serve in classrooms in elementary, junior high and high schools, according to a March 28 Tufts Now article.
In addition to the City Year placement, the fellows will also be active in other aspects of the program at Tufts.
“[Tufts] 1+4 fellows who do City Year will get to do all of the City Year training and have a placement through them, but they will also be a full part of the 1+4 program,” Jessye Crowe-Rothstein, administrator for the 1+4 program, said. “They will do the full City Year training leading up to the beginning of the school year. They will come to the 1+4 orientation on campus and get to meet the full 1+4 cohort.”
Crowe-Rothstein explained that City Year fellows will be enrolled in the online Tufts 1+4 course that all 1+4 fellows complete, regardless of their placement locations. This allows fellows to stay connected with the university and their peers during their gap year, she said.
“Through that course, they’re doing reflection, writing and different exercises, but they are also reading each other’s work across locations and across service projects, and they’re also giving peer feedback, so that’s another way they’ll stay connected with the full group,” Crowe-Rothstein said.
She explained that program administrators initiated this partnership in an effort to expand the program’s influence domestically.
“When we thought about the domestic arena and what kind of service organizations are out there, we of course thought of City Year,” she said. “We initiated calls with them to start this partnership to build up the number of Tufts students who get to participate in City Year and still be a part of this Tufts cohort as well.”
Jennifer McAndrew, communications manager at Tisch College, explained that the partnership is an example of the desire to broaden the options offered for participants in the 1+4 program, rather than an effort to shift the program to have a more domestic focus.
“It expands the potential impact of the program,” McAndrew said. “Now students will have the option to serve diverse communities in the United States, working with students in some of the most disadvantaged school systems in the country.”
According to McAndrew, this partnership marks the first formal relationship that City Year has formed with a university bridge-year program.
“This is the first university they have chosen to partner with in this way, which is really exciting for Tufts,” McAndrew said. “I think that they rightly view Tufts and Tisch College as leaders in the area of civic engagement for students and see this as a way to both expand their own reach and fulfill their own mission of service.”
Leadership from both the university and City Year also commended the new partnership.
“City Year was founded on the belief that young people have the power to change the world and that national service is a valuable tool to tackle society’s most pressing problems,” City Year CEO and co-founder Michael Brown said. “This collaboration will allow Tufts 1+4 Fellows to have an impact on student outcomes for our nation’s most high-need children while they also develop their own leadership and civic engagement capacity.”
“The Tufts 1+4 program embodies the values of service and civic engagement that have distinguished Tufts University since its founding, and City Year shares those values,” Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris said. “We welcome this collaboration with City Year, as we work together to demonstrate a new model for service learning and community impact in higher education.”