6th Annual Dorchester FAMILY School Initiative (DFSI) Community Night Resource Fair

“What are you doing this summer?”  For many students and families in Dorchester, this is a difficult question to answer.  According to the National Summer Learning Association, lack of access to summer learning programs is responsible for more than half of the achievement gap between high- and low-income students.   

To bridge this gap, the Dorchester FAMILY School Initiative (DFSI) and the Dorchester-Franklin Field Community Learning Initiative (CLI) held the sixth annual DFSI Community Night resource fair on Wednesday, March 3 from 5:30-7:30PM.  Laura Santel, one of our SCI AmeriCorps Members serving in Dorchester was one of the primary organizers of this event.  Nearly 300 people gathered in the Lee Complex cafeteria, including 197 students and family members from the Fifield, Holmes, Lee Academy, and Lee Elementary Schools and 95 other individuals including event organizers, program representatives, and city officials.  Those in attendance enjoyed student performances; guest speakers, including Mayor Menino; a free dinner; and information on summer programs in and around Dorchester.

The cafeteria was abuzz with activity as families visited resource tables hosted by 28 different organizations, learning about summer day and overnight camps and other community resources.  Students were excited to hear about the many activities they could enjoy this summer – tennis, dance, swimming, hiking, sailing, biking, and computer classes, to name a few – while families appreciated the variety and affordability of programs represented.  Students from all four participating schools provided the evening’s entertainment, with emcees from the Fifield School, step performances by Holmes School students, and a friendship-themed dance by Lee Academy and Lee School students.  Troy Smith, Administrative Coordinator for the Perkins Community Center, Genteen Lacet Jean-Michel, principal of the Lee Academy Pilot School, and Dr. Catherine Constant, principal of the Holmes School, welcomed families to the event.  Other guest speakers included Mary Ann Crayton from the Boston Public Schools Office of Family and Student Engagement; Joel Abrams, CEO of Dorchester House Multi-Service Center and co-CEO of DotWell; and Mayor Thomas Menino.   

The mayor stressed the importance of community engagement and collaboration in improving urban schools, and also encouraged students and families to remain active and engaged during the summer months.  The other speakers also emphasized the importance of collaboration, highlighting this event as a success story in bringing together four schools and nearly 30 organizations.  As a result of this collaborative effort, more Dorchester students will have a ready answer the next time someone asks, “What are you doing this summer?” 

About the Dorchester FAMILY School Initiative (DFSI)

DFSI believes that the whole community must work together to help students succeed.  We provide academic, enrichment, and wellness services for children attending our partner schools: the Emily A. Fifield, Oliver W. Holmes, and Joseph Lee Elementary Schools.  DFSI partners also include DotWell, FAMILY Inc, Social Capital Inc, Wheelock College, Action for Boston Community Development, and Open Circle.   

About the Dorchester-Franklin Field Community Learning Initiative (CLI)

The Dorchester-Franklin Field CLI includes the Codman Square branch of the Boston Public Library, the Joseph Lee Elementary School, Lee Academy Pilot School, the Perkins Community Center, and DotWell.  The CLI aligns City departments and community organizations to coordinate services and programming for youth.