The Psi Rho Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha at Saint Michael’s College is requesting a $900 grant to support a pilot outreach program to Winooski High and Middle Schools. This program, which we have already begun, by hosting a campus visit for a group of Winooski High Seniors in early October, is being planned in conjunction with guidance counselors and a staff member of the Vermont Student Assistance Corps (VSAC) who works with the Winooski School District.
Winooski is a small school district, comprised of an elementary, middle and high school located adjacent to one another a few miles from the Saint Michael’s College campus. The Winooski School District educates a population of students that is significantly lower-income and more diverse than the rest of the state as a whole. Many of these students are New Americans. Of approximately 800 students within the WSD, last year 265 of them were English Language-Learners (ELL). The WSD also has one of the highest proportions of students with disabilities in the state, and about a quarter of people living in Winooski are living in poverty, compared to a little over 10% statewide. Given its close proximity; its disproportionately large population of students facing challenges in furthering their after-graduation goals; and its willingness to work with our Pi Sigma Alpha Chapter, it seemed a wonderful partner for this program.
The program is envisioned to run through the 2014-15 school year, with approximately one joint activity per month. We began, as noted, with a campus visit for seniors who spent approximately 5 hours on campus, touring the facilities, discussing the college application process with admissions counselors, taking in a “mini-lecture” and eating lunch with Pi Sigma members in the school cafeteria. After this initial successful venture we have agreed with Winooski High to work for the rest of the year with a group of about 10 Winooski students on a once-monthly basis. For the remainder of the year, we plan to go to the high school to meet with the students and conduct workshops and sessions on a number of topics including: goal-setting; career exploration; filling out college and job applications; and the process of exploring college options. At the end of the year, instead of our usual Pi Sigma Alpha induction banquet, we will have an end-of-the-year dinner, inviting (as usual) our new inductees, current members, active Pi Sigma alumni in the area (it was an alumnus who spurred us to initiate this outreach program, and she has been working with us in designing and implementing it), and the six members of our department, but ALSO the 10-12 Winooski students and staff with whom we have worked.
We view this initiative as an opportunity to potentially open some doors to students within our area who may not have seen college in general, or Saint Michael’s College specifically, as an option. We also believe that it will enrich the experience of our Pi Sigma members to view membership in our honor society as an opportunity to serve the community rather than merely a once-a-year distinction to be conveyed. Thank you for considering this request.