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Grant funding to boost MassBay disparity plan

Jared Lindh | 2/25/2009, 3:52 a.m.

While on-campus support centers of this kind are not new, YMOC’s architects recognized that one of the chief reasons for the achievement disparity is a lack of access to such services.

Because MBCC’s campuses are located in Wellesley Hills and Framingham, travel issues make it harder for many students who live in areas like Dorchester and Roxbury to get the academic help they need. As part of the YMOC outreach, the community college has reached agreements with a number of local community centers, enabling the initiative’s learning specialists to work with students closer to home.

The student support will also extend to the “business” side of college, according to Raynor. YMOC will offer students one-on-one assistance in course selection, financial aid and tuition management, which he said can be intimidating for some students.

“They need somebody they are connected to, who’s like them and comes from where they came from, to help them negotiate the various bureaucracies,” said Raynor.

The program’s focus on cultural matters will include monthly student-led forums designed to invite discussion of a range topics, from the role of hip-hop in popular culture to the societal implications of the use of the “n-word.”

The key, Raynor said, is helping students to make the commitment to take a more active role in their own education.

“I’ve seen a lot of cases where students go to institutions and just disappear into the woodwork,” said Raynor. “They don’t participate in the programs and take advantage of the services.”

The Boston Foundation grant will support YMOC for one year, after which it can reapply for extended funding. President Joseph said the college understands that, given the uncertain financial climate, the initiative’s success alone would not guarantee financial support. But if the foundation cannot back another year of YMOC, Joseph said she is confident that MBCC will be able to find alternate sources of support.

“Overall at MassBay, my motto has been access and excellence,” said Joseph. “We just think this is the right thing to do, serving one of the most underserved populations on campus.”