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UMass Amherst and non profit develop program to help Boston public school graduates work toward STEM degree

A view over the Campus Pond at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A view over the Campus Pond at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe/File

The University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Boston-based nonprofit are teaming up to give talented young Boston Public School graduates a “no-cost head start to a STEM degree” from UMass, the school said in a recent statement.

The initiative, a collaboration between UMass-Amherst and the nonprofit Digital Ready that’s free for students, is scheduled to begin in September, according to the statement.

That’s when about 40 BPS graduates will live in an “experiential learning environment” on UMass’s Mount Ida campus, the school said, where they’ll be immersed in “an innovative community and have the resources and support to identify their purpose and their passions in STEM,” which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

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“The unique model is intended to provide underrepresented young people – students of color, first-generation college students, and students from low-income backgrounds – with the knowledge, skills and networks to pursue careers in Greater Boston’s innovation economy,” the statement said.

According to the release, students will receive academic coaching, coursework on emerging technologies, and valuable work-based learning experience with industry partners, as well as housing and a meal plan.

At the end of the year, the statement said, students will have the opportunity to join a full-time undergraduate program at UMass Amherst, with 18 credits and a year of college experience already obtained, at no cost to the BPS graduates or their families.

“This program aligns perfectly with our strategic plan for the Mount Ida Campus, our effort to expand exploratory pathways to a UMass degree, and our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy in the statement. “We believe this could become a new model for how to assist historically underrepresented students in transitioning to college and eventually into careers in the Commonwealth’s thriving economy.”

Dr. Sarah Cherry Rice, executive director of Digital Ready, also praised the upcoming program.

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“Living and learning together will allow students the opportunity to share ideas, collaborate on innovative projects, and have the resources they need to bring their ideas to life and figure out how they want to change the world,” Rice said in the statement. “All of the support is what makes it work – coaching, no-cost tuition, housing, bus passes. These are the barriers that sometimes prevent Boston students from reaching their full potential. We are thrilled to have this level of investment from UMass and our industry and community partners. We want to create permanent change that breaks cycles of poverty and puts students and their families on a path to economic mobility in Boston.”




Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.