MassINC Announces the Winners of the 2014 Gateway Cities Innovation Awards

MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute announced the winners of the 2014 Gateway Cities Innovation Awards on Tuesday. The awards are made annually to organizations and individuals that utilize innovative models to grow the economies of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities. The 2014 awards will be presented at the Institute’s annual event in November.

“This year’s awards celebrate leaders who have advanced educational excellence in their communities,” said Ben Forman, Executive Director of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, “They each achieved this by working collaboratively to build new learning models that take advantage of unique Gateway City educational opportunities.”

The 2014 Gateway Cities Innovation Award winners are Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative, Mount Wachusett Community College/Fitchburg High School GEAR UP, Greater Lawrence Advanced Manufacturing Academy, Revere High Advisory Program, and the Worcester Arts Magnet School.

The focus on Gateway City education leaders in 2014 reflects the Institute’s agenda for new the legislative session beginning in January. Working with MassINC over the past two years, Gateway Cities have prepared a shared vision and policy agenda .

“These award winners exemplify the creativity and dedication Gateway Cities have shown in attempting to build new learning models that respond to the needs of students and families in our changing economy” said Mr. Forman. “The time has come to take a hard look at how we change funding models developed two decades ago to better position leaders to bring effective new learning models to scale.”

“There is a real hunger for rethinking how we build and fund our learning systems in Massachusetts to respond to a changing economy,” said Mr. Forman citing new polling data that show voters statewide and in the Gateway Cities see education as the top strategy to fuel economic growth and that they do not feel policymakers have gone far enough to bring about the change challenging economic times require.

The 2014 Gateway Cities Innovation Award winners are as follows:

Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative – The Holyoke Early Literacy Initiative is a strategic, community-wide effort to ensure that all children are proficient readers by the end of grade three. With leadership from Mayor Alex Morse and Superintendent Sergio Paez, civic leaders have built a citywide early literacy taskforce and developed a far-reaching early literacy blueprint. The initiative is working now to implement this strategy with program development, marketing, and evaluation.

Mount Wachusett Community College/Fitchburg High School GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally funded initiative provided by Mount Wachusett Community College to Fitchburg Public Schools. GEAR UP offers academic support and early college awareness activities to help Fitchburg students successfully pursue post-secondary degrees. This ambitious partnership is unique in that it is designed to reach every student in Fitchburg in the classes of 2016 and 2017. The program has been able to achieve this scale through the dedication of an exceptionally committed GEAR UP team.

Greater Lawrence Advanced Manufacturing Academy – Together with Northern Essex Community College, Greater Lawrence Vocational Technical High School is building an advanced manufacturing academy. The academy has secured a $1.2 million state grant and more than $500,000 in donations from area companies to purchase advanced equipment. With leadership from Superintendent John Lavoie and NECC President Lane Glenn, the two institutions are creating a program that will allow GLTS students to dual enroll at the community college and earn credit toward an associate’s degree in advanced manufacturing. The academy will also provide training opportunities for adult learners.

Revere High Advisory Program – As part of an ambitious overhaul in 2011, Revere High School created an advisory program that assigns each student a faculty member to serve as an advisor for all four years. The student meets with their advisor three times per week at the start of the school day for twenty-five minutes. Advisors build strong relationships with students and families, allowing them to support both the academic and social-emotional growth of their students. The advisory program, developed with leadership from principal Dr. Lourenço Garcia and former Guidance Director Maureen Lenihan, was instrumental in Revere High receiving the exceptional distinction as the sole Gold Award national High School from the National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University this past spring.

Worcester Arts Magnet School – Founded in 1992, Worcester Arts Magnet School (WAMS) leverages the city’s cultural community and an arts-learning curriculum to help children reach their intellectual, social, and creative potential. WAMS’s founding principal, Margaret Vendetti, and current principal Susan O’Neil, have been critical to the school’s sustained success. Year after year, the Worcester Arts Magnet School draws families from across the community, providing a model for economically integrated urban education.

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