PITTSFIELD, Mass — Berkshire Community College (BCC) has received an allocation of $869,377 from the state legislature as part of a $16 million fund distributed to all 15 community colleges in the Commonwealth.
The allocation is earmarked for the Supporting Urgent Community College Equity through Student Services (SUCCESS) Fund, which focuses on vulnerable populations. The funding, which was requested through the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC), covers the period through June 30, 2022, but will likely be renewed if the program proves successful.
The majority of BCC's SUCCESS funding will be spent on staffing, including hiring Assistant Dean of Student Affairs/Director of SUCCESS George Ambriz as well as four SUCCESS coaches and administrative support.
Remaining funds will be spent on student engagement initiatives and related expenses.
BCC has identified three major areas in which to improve: completion of a college-level math course within the first year, particularly by students of color; reducing the instances of students who earn zero credits in the first semester; and increasing the likelihood of students returning to school after completion of the first semester.
SUCCESS is designed to maximize collaboration among the Commonwealth's community colleges, identifying best practices and bringing those practices to scale rather than creating new initiatives, explained
"We're really good at working with marginalized populations, but now we have an amazing opportunity to figure out exactly what works, what doesn't, and how to serve our students better," Adam Klepetar, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management said. "We can share everything from project plans to budgets with our community college colleagues across the Commonwealth."
SUCCESS is primarily designed to serve vulnerable student populations, including first-generation, low-income, minority, disabled and LGBTQ+ students.
At BCC, approximately 500 students will participate in the program. Each student will be assigned a coach, who will focus on academic skills, socio-economic support, and housing and food insecurities. Each coach will manage a caseload and track interactions with their students. Field trips to four-year colleges and financial literacy workshops will be among the student engagement initiatives offered.
"We want to connect students with the resources they need to keep them on track so that they can meet or exceed their goals," Klepetar said. "It's our responsibility to create safe places and pathways for all students, but particularly those underserved in higher education. SUCCESS focuses on reducing equity gaps and racial justice."
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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — The Farm Bureau Federation named Thomas Farm & Dairy's Sophie-Jane as Barn Cat of the year.
“Sophie-Jane exhibited the qualities of an excellent barn cat," said MFBF Promotion and Education Chair Meg Gennings. “Not only does she keep rodents and birds out of the barn at Thomas Farm and Dairy but she also is extremely affectionate and an excellent napper. Those qualities are what make barn cats popular."
Sophie-Jane was adopted through Dakin Humane Society's barn cat program, which pairs cats who are either too feisty or too shy to live in traditional homes with working barns. These cats are spayed or neutered, and the owner is required to provide them with a warm bed (in Sophie-Jane's case that meant a cat door into the warm room where Thomas Farm and Dairy raises baby goats).
"We are so happy that Sophie-Jane found a loving home/barn and has now earned the title of Barn Cat of the Year," said Stacey Price, Dakin Humane Society director of development and marketing. “We are incredibly thankful to those who open up their barns to cats like Sophie-Jane. They are truly doing lifesaving work by making this choice. Cats like Sophie-Jane are used to being outside, some may not even like people and prefer the company of other cats making it difficult for animal shelters to sometimes find living quarters for them. And even though these cats are wild they deserve equal compassion, love and humane care within the environment for which they thrive. Congrats Sophie-Jane for representing all barn cats."
The forum was held at the Berkshire Athenaum as a partnership between iBerkshires.com and Pittsfield Community Television. It was moderated by iBerkshires Executive Editor Tammy Daniels and Pittsfield Bureau Chief Brittany Polito.
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William Garrity of Taconic High School and Elodie Theriault of Pittsfield High School received the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence.
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The panel passed a special permit application for the construction of a drive-through window service at 180-184 South St. with one condition requiring a raised right-turn median instead of a painted one at the intersection of the streets.
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