Union Settlement Association and Drew University have been awarded a $270,000 College-Community Connections grant from the Teagle Foundation. The grant will support a partnership between Union Settlement and Drew University to give low-income, underserved high school and middle school students in East Harlem the opportunity to experience the rewards associated with college education.
“During the past five years, Union Settlement and Drew University have developed a valuable partnership that is transforming the lives of hundreds of low income students who might not otherwise find the encouragement and support to pursue a college education,” said David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement Association, the oldest and largest social services organization in East Harlem. “I want to thank the Teagle Foundation for this generous grant, which will allow us to continue this program for another three years.”
“Drew University is committed to supporting youth in East Harlem and other underserved communities by bringing them into mentoring relationships with Drew students and faculty,” said Dr. Robert Weisbuch, President of Drew University. “This collaboration with Union Settlement has benefited Drew as well. It has helped Drew become a more ‘socially engaged’ learning community. I am very grateful to the Teagle Foundation for recognizing the merits of this program and continuing to fund it.”
As part of this collaboration 60 students from East Harlem will attend a one -week “Summer College” at Drew University. It introduces the students to college life and includes seminars taught by university faculty that emphasize the benefits, challenges, pressures, and opportunities of being a college student and a college graduate. Students take part in classes that introduce them to subjects and approaches they can study in college, which are often untouched in their high schools. They also participate in evening co-curricular activities, such as a performance at the New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre, a documentary film screening and discussion, or a sporting event.
After attending the “Summer College” at Drew, Veronica Fernandez, the youngest in a family of new immigrants, promised her counselor, “I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate from high school and go to college!”
In addition, to the “Summer College” this grant supports tutoring programs, campus visits and other college preparatory activities for 100 students during the school year. Drew students travel to East Harlem twice a month to tutor middle students attending Union Settlement’s Saturday Academy and to lead SAT and Regents test prep for high school students. Union Settlement students will also visit the Drew campus for special events such as student plays, poetry readings or colloquiums.
Nearly one hundred percent of the students who have participated in this program have gone on to enroll in college.