The Mentoring for Academic Achievement and College Success (MAACS) program was developed in 1988 to address the high drop-out rate in the three Bridgeport, CT public high schools and the low number of graduating seniors who were going on to college. MAACS is unique from other college access programs as it pairs high school students one-on-one with a college mentor.
BPEF recruits students from area colleges as the source for our mentors and this has proven to be a highly successful model for over twenty years. MAACS has provided employment, service learning, volunteer and federal work-study placement to more than 500 college students since 1985. To date, the MAACS program has provided mentoring to over 4,500 students and has a success rate of 95% of its students going on to college.
The Bridgeport Public Education Fund participated in a student forum in partnership with The Bridgeport Board of Education and Housatonic Community College. The initial idea for the student forum came from one of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund Board members who is a Junior at Bassick High School after hearing a presentation from the Superintendent. This forum was designed to inform, educate and enlighten current students about the high school reform efforts that have been at the forefront of discussion in our city and state for the past year. This was their opportunity to hear about all of the changes that will take place in our high schools. Over 300 students attended this forum from the three Bridgeport Public High Schools. At this forum, Superintendent Vallas informed the students of his vision and how the high school redesign efforts will impact them moving forward. The students also had an opportunity to express their concerns.
The agenda included welcoming remarks from the Academic Dean of Housatonic, an introduction of the Superintendent by our student board member, a 20 minute presentation by the Superintendent followed by a 15 minute question and answer period. The remaining hour was devoted to small group discussions which were led by student moderators and recorders. Each student moderator was given a guide to ensure that the conversations remained focused and on task. Students also submitted questions for the Superintendent to answer as a follow-up to this forum. The student questions and culminating final report can be found on BPEF's homepage and the Board of Education website.
IN 2010, BPEF and the MAACS program received a grant from JP Morgan Chase to conduct parent college tours. The Parents Engaged and Advocating for our Kids (PEAK) program was born. On November 7, 2011 8 parents attended a local college tour of Housatonic Community College, Fairfield University and the University of Bridgeport. PEAK parents were given the opportunity to meet with admissions counselor, financial aid officers and academic advisors. Parents also toured the libraries, dormitories and even ate in the dining hall on the campuses to get a glimpse of the life of a college student. To show our gratitude, each parent was given a $50 check for their participation. We are looking forward to engaging more parents in the PEAK program for the upcoming school year.
This year, the MAACS program with funding from Citibank conducted financial literacy workshops in the local high schools. These workshops were facilitated by staff members of Citibank. Seven (7) workshops were held throughout the school year to educate and promote financial literacy as it relates to college planning.