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MAYOR MICHELLE WU, BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS, UMASS BOSTON PRESENT INAUGURAL FULL RIDE SCHOLARSHIP TO GRADUATE OF BCLA/MCCORMACK

Scholarship launches new dimension of the City’s university-assisted community hub school partnership, strengthening ties between UMass Boston and BCLA/McCormack (to be renamed the Ruth Batson Academy) 

BOSTON -- Wednesday, June 12, 2024 -- Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Public Schools (BPS) and UMass Boston (UMB) today announced an inaugural scholarship to a graduate of the BCLA/McCormack, to be renamed the Ruth Batson Academy. The new scholarship -- the Robert and Ruth Starratt Endowed Scholarship -- is UMass Boston’s largest endowed scholarship fund. It underscores the deep partnership among the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and UMass Boston to build collaboration to foster college-level opportunities for high school students. A $1.9 million donation from lifelong educators Robert and Ruth Starratt to the UMass Boston College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) will fund this scholarship program for students from the BCLA/McCormack who plan to pursue a career in education in the Boston Public Schools. This announcement builds on Mayor Wu's State of the City announcement to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UMass Boston to make the BCLA/McCormack BPS' first University-Assisted Community Hub School. Johanna Peña, 17 and of Roslindale, received the inaugural scholarship last night at her graduation ceremony.

"As a City, we continue to deliver on our commitment to opening doors to college and career-connected learning for every student," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "I am grateful for our partnership with Boston Public Schools and UMass Boston, rooted in our collective mission to promote student success, and I am so proud of our students that will be the future leaders and educators of our City."

"This scholarship will provide an additional pathway to college and will undoubtedly be life-changing for our students who want to make an impact through education in Boston," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. "We are so proud of Johanna and her accomplishments, and I'm sure she will make a fabulous educator. I hope to see her back here at BPS teaching, nurturing, and guiding the next generation of students."

"Robert and Ruth Starratt's singular act of generosity supports a life-changing scholarship that will enable exceptional BCLA/McCormack graduates to pursue an education degree at UMass Boston and give back powerfully to the Boston Public Schools," said UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. "Indeed, this scholarship is the perfect embodiment of UMass Boston’s commitment to community-engaged education, to holistic student success, and to the values we cherish."

The $1.9 million gift is intended to provide need-based partial scholarships (up to the total cost of attendance) for undergraduate students who enroll in the College of Education and Human Development to prepare for careers in education with the intention of working within the public schools of Boston. The scholarship will benefit students each year, and will be renewable for up to four years. Starratt Scholars will be asked to return to the BCLA/McCormack to share their experiences to promote education as a career choice to other students. The scholarship recipients will also receive mentoring and other support as a CEHD student. It will provide a "last-dollar award" that will supplement other forms of student grant aid to ensure that the Starratt Scholar graduates from UMass Boston debt-free and ready to work in BPS.

"The Starratt Scholarship is an investment in the talented young people whom we encounter every day at the Batson Academy," said Tara Parker, dean of UMass Boston's College of Education and Human Development. "I'm overjoyed that we can offer these resources to students who, in graduating debt-free from UMass Boston, will have the tools to return to our city’s public schools as strong advocates and social justice educators."

The MOU signed in January between BPS and UMass Boston intends to create access to college coursework and resources, partner educators from both institutions, and create a seamless pathway into UMass Boston for graduates. As a University-Assisted Community Hub School, UMass will serve as a center for educational and community support services, fostering a holistic approach to student development. It will have a range of enrichment and social services for students, families, and community members, such as academic support and college readiness, health and wellness programs, out of school time activities and internships with community partners, parent and community engagement initiatives, and counseling services. Also as part of the MOU, BCLA-McCormack students will have access to coursework on the UMass Boston campus, including early college and dual enrollment, as well as university-centered opportunities and resources on the UMass Boston Campus. The Early College program in Early Education launched this school year. BPS teachers and staff will receive professional development opportunities.

"This is a true, seamless partnership with UMass Boston," said BCLA/McCormack Head of School Ondrea Johnston. "Moving forward, whenever you hear our school's name, you will associate it with UMass and UMass will be associated with us as well. And they're showing that every day with the work that they do. This scholarship, through the UMass College of Education and Human Development, is for a bright, dedicated future educator and intends to return back to Boston Public Schools just like Johanna. We are so proud of her and I can’t wait to welcome her back to BPS."

Peña became interested in teaching after working as a camp counselor. She would like to teach elementary school.

"I always dreamed of becoming a teacher and making a difference in the lives of people in my community," said Robert and Ruth Starratt Endowed Scholarship recipient Johanna Peña. "Because of this scholarship, I now have the opportunity to pursue my dreams without worrying about how I will pay for college. This scholarship has made it really easy  to pursue my education for free and I am just really grateful."

The BPS and UMass Boston partnership has already provided opportunities for students this school year. Recently, UMass Boston sent two BCLA/McCormack students to participate in a climate summit hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican. Mayor Wu also participated at this summit that convened leaders from around the world to talk about climate solutions. While in Rome, the students visited sites in the city, met the Pope to present letters from middle schoolers, toured a preschool with Mayor Wu, and spoke on a youth panel about climate change.

Additionally, BCLA/McCormack students were visited by writer and poet Nikki Giovanni, while she visited UMass Boston for a talk. At the BCLA/McCormack, she spoke with students and teachers, and some students had the opportunity to read their poetry. 

The City of Boston is committed to the renovation of the BCLA/McCormack campus. The City submitted a statement of interest this spring to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for financial support.

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