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Madison Park hopes GE philanthropy pledge will aid in turnaround

The GE Foundation praised Madison Park students for “their visions of innovation and what the future can bring for them.”
The GE Foundation praised Madison Park students for “their visions of innovation and what the future can bring for them.”Keith Bedford/Globe staff/file 2015

Administrators at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School are cheering a pledge by General Electric Co. to use part of its Boston philanthropy to benefit the long-struggling trade school.

As GE prepares to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., to Fort Point, the company has promised $25 million to Boston Public Schools over five years. Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Monday that a top recipient would be Madison Park, which was declared underperforming by the state just four months ago.

Madison Park started building a relationship with GE after the January announcement that the corporation would move to Boston, said Kevin McCaskill, the Roxbury school’s executive director. Students from the school’s television production program created a video highlighting a two-day visit by executives from GE and other technology companies.

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“We’re just overjoyed with the prospects of having an industry leader such as GE really have . . . partnership opportunities for us,” he said.

McCaskill said he wants students to be involved in the conversation with GE, the School Department, and the mayor’s office to decide how the corporation can best benefit students. There are many organic connections between GE’s ventures and the school’s career-training programs, he said.

“They’re involved in a number of fields, anything ranging from, obviously power and energy, transportation, health care, city infrastructure,” he said.

McCaskill said GE’s support can give students “a leg up . . . so they are better prepared for the world outside of Madison Park.”

Elton Bocage, who has a son and a daughter at the school, said investment from GE and other private-sector donors is a vote of confidence that the school is improving.

“I see the school really having a lot of outside interest,” said Bocage, cochairman of the school site council. “When I first started, we didn’t have all of that happening, so I’m very proud to see it happening.”

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Walsh and schools Superintendent Tommy Chang have pointed to Madison Park as a potential laboratory for innovation as the city seeks to make the high schools more relevant to students’ lives and the job market.

The School Department said GE money would help provide every high school student in the district access to computer science courses and career labs while giving teachers resources to help prepare students for their futures, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.

Kelli Wells, executive director of education and skills for the GE Foundation, the corporation’s philanthropic arm, praised Madison Park’s students.

“Their visions of innovation and what the future can bring for them were inspiring,” Wells said in a statement. “The students are ready to get down to the business of college and career planning and delving into STEM courses. It is an honor for the GE Foundation to help.”

A spokesman said GE is “too early in the process of developing specific plans” to say how the funds will be spent, but it will “work with the city on those plans in the coming months.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.