Funds build on previous $1 million grant, creating program sustainability
September 27, 2021 - The MassMutual Foundation has granted Springfield Public Schools $1 million over two years to further support City Connects, ensuring sustainability for the 10-year-old support program that has contributed to significant gains in student outcomes, Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick announced today.
City Connects, a national program executed by the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, provides support for students based on their individual needs by addressing out-of-school challenges that affect student success, and leverages existing community resources and support services to optimize students’ readiness to learn.
This most recent grant builds upon previous support of the same value, which the MassMutual Foundation provided the District in 2018 to support City Connects expansion within the District.
“We believe that education is foundational to building financial resiliency and opportunity for every member of our community. In order to help ensure that every student is able to realize his or her potential to that end, it’s imperative that we leverage every available resource to level the playing field for students and their caregivers who might need assistance. City Connects delivers a highly effective, nurturing experience for students and their families, and delivers amazing results like no other program,” said Dennis Duquette, president of the MassMutual Foundation. “We are proud not only to support the expansion of City Connects even deeper into the Springfield Public School system, but of the fact that this program is now self-sustainable to benefit future generations of SPS students.”
"City Connects is delighted to continue our partnership with Springfield Public Schools with the support of this award from the MassMutual Foundation," said Mary Walsh, executive director of City Connects. "Superintendent Warwick, along with the teachers and staff of the Springfield Public Schools and MassMutual have been ahead of their time in recognizing the profound impacts that out-of-school factors play in affecting a student's readiness to learn. Even before these needs were so clearly exposed by the pandemic. Springfield Public Schools have been steadfast partners in our mission to deliver a systemic, evidence-based practice of student support to children across Springfield. We value our partnership with the Springfield Public Schools."
Launched in six Springfield Public Schools in September 2011, City Connects is now implemented in 40 schools across the District, serving more than 13,000 students and their families. This most recent support by the MassMutual Foundation will enable City Connects to sustain the momentum it has achieved in connecting more than 100 community organizations with students and families to help support and service their individual needs.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said the research-based City Connects program has greatly contributed to significant improvements in student academic performance, attendance, and graduation rates. He added, however, that in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the social-emotional supports provided under the City Connects program are more critical now than ever before.
“As a District, we made a concrete commitment to address the social-emotional needs of students in the fullest, most impactful way that we can because we understand the toll that COVID-19 has had on so many families in our community,” said Warwick. “City Connects has been instrumental for us in these efforts and we could not be more grateful to the MassMutual Foundation for granting us dollars, once again, to ensure the continued success and sustainability of a program that has proven to work. This kind of corporate citizenry has a direct, valuable positive influence on the lives of our students and families.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “Once again the MassMutual Foundation has stepped up to support our community. Superintendent Daniel Warwick and I want to thank the MassMutual Foundation Board of Directors for their continued support, belief, and investment in our Springfield. This very generous funding builds upon their previous grant our Springfield Public Schools received from the Foundation back in 2018. The new funding will continue to greatly enhance our SPS Student Support Program – City Connects – which has seen significant gains for our students. This new support will ensure the program’s continued success and sustainability well into the future.”
School Committee Vice Chairman Christopher Collins stated: “Again, the MassMutual Foundation steps up to support the children and all citizens of Springfield. The grant will help address the enormous need for counseling services during these most difficult times. MassMutual continues to be an excellent corporate citizen.”