What is the FOCRLS “It Takes a Village” Program?

The It Takes a Village (ITAV) program aims to increase the college success of recently-graduated Cambridge Rindge and Latin School alumni. ITAV is one of six programs of the Friends of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (FOCRLS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit association, that mobilizes all sectors of the Cambridge community to invest in the success of our talented, motivated 1800 public high school students, particularly the 40% who come from low-income families where resources and access to opportunities may be in short supply.

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Numerous studies have shown a troubling nationwide phenomenon of extremely low college graduation rates for college-matriculating, low-income students, particularly those attending state and community colleges. Graduation rates at public two- and four-year colleges around the country are inexcusably low – in the 20% range on average. Massachusetts is not exempt from this phenomenon, with, for example, approximately 13% of students graduating from Bunker Hill Community College within 4 years after entry.

The most frequent factors cited as contributors to this problem are:

1. A very high rate of developmental (remedial) course enrollment upon matriculation, resulting in students incurring expenses and debt, while not accumulating college credits.

2. Lack of a support network, especially among the majority whose parents have not themselves graduated from institutions of higher learning.

3. A heavy financial burden, so that even those students placing into college-level courses must also work many hours to the detriment of their studies, while taking on crushing debt.


How does the ITAV College Success Program seek to address these problems?

The ITAV program has taken multi-pronged phased approach, seeking to address each of the above factors detracting from college success.

1. Remedial Coursework >> Accuplacer Exam Preparation.
The FOCRLS ITAV program introduced Accuplacer Workshops to CRLS, since taken on by CRLS as a school-run program, given the need and results demonstrated by the FOCRLS pilot.

2. Lack of a Support Network >> Alumni & Community Mentoring Program and UMass-Boston Embedded Counselor.
In January 2014, FOCRLS  launched an Alumni and Community Mentoring Program that pairs successful Cambridge High Schools alumni and other community members with recent graduates of CRLS who share their career interests. If you are interested in exploring serving as a mentor (or are a recent CRLS graduate at one of the local state or community colleges and would like a mentor), please contact [email protected].

ITAV also piloted a very successful “embedded counselor” program specifically for CRLS alumni attending UMass-Boston which was then taken on by UMass-Boston in a joint endeavor with the City of Boston.

3. Heavy Financial Burden >> Scholarships.
CRLS currently offers many scholarships to its graduating seniors. However, they are given only for a single year, leaving it up to the students to find other funds to take their place in following years. FOCRLS seeks to increase both the number of student scholarships, and to expand student scholarship programs beyond the first year of college through the It Takes a Village Scholarships.


Who’s Who in “It Takes a Village”

The ITAV Program is managed by the FOCRLS Executive Committee, and the ITAV Mentoring Program Coordinator is Rachel Deleveaux, who can be reached at [email protected].

The ITAV project is assisted by CRLS Principal Damon Smith and CRLS Director of Guidance Lynn Williams, and by the ITAV Advisory Committee, which includes Rindge Technical High School alumni Roland Gibson, Liliana Mickle — Special Assistant to the Vice Provost of Academic Support Services & Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Director of the CRLS Tutoring Center Rene Meshon.



College coach with CRLS grad and junior at UMass-Boston Micqueen Clergy.


L to R: Liliana Mickle (Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for Academic Services and Undergraduate Studies, University of Massachusetts–Boston), Akminchie Estime (CRLStrong Emergency Fund award recipient and participant in FOCRLS’ College Coaching program for CRLS alumni embedded at UMass-Boston in spring 2014), and FOCRLS ITAV College Coach.