Genesis of the New Vision Foundation
The New Vision foundation was founded in 1999 to serve people of color and other minority populations by helping them overcome the barrier that limit their access to programs, services, and solutions within the twenty-six towns that comprise the MetroWest community with a particular focus on the ten towns that border the greater Framingham area. A significant number of African-Americans reside in Framingham and its environs: 5.1% of the population or 3,409 in Framingham and approximately 2,000 African-Americans in contiguous towns and cities.

Why We Were Established
Unlike the Greater Boston area, MetroWest has no organization to serve the unique needs of African-Americans and other minority populations. A study commissioned by the Foundation identified three issues of particular significance to African-Americans in MetroWest: (1) In all age groups except 65 and older, African-Americans have the highest mortality rate of all population groups in Massachusetts; (2) Compared to the general student population in MetroWest schools, African-American students do not perform as well academically, a higher percentage drop out of high school, and a lower percentage attend college; (3) A significant percentage of African –American youth and adults do not have access to computers or learn necessary computer skills. To address these issues, we implemented the programs listed below.

In January 2002, the Foundation relocated to a new site to adequately house its programs and become more accessible to its target population. At the 47 Franklin Street location, a computer lab, meeting rooms and classrooms are available. The Foundation plans to relocate to 44 Franklin Street with renovation of this building.

Our Programs
The primary goal of the Foundation is to create and improve the skills that lead to successful lifestyles for African-Americans and other minorities in three areas: health, computer technology, and academics.

Teen Education Assistance Model (T.E.A.M.): a collaboration between the New Vision Foundation, the Framingham Public Schools, Framingham State University, Greater Framingham Community Church (GFCC), and other community programs. The ground-breaking Teen Education Assistance Model (T.E.A.M.) will be created to benefit minority youth in Framingham. Its goal is to develop fundamental skills and competencies for long term positive impact on the future learning and employment goals of youth served through a program of mentoring, tutoring, social development, cultural enrichment, and parental support. T.E.A.M. has been recognized by MetroWest businesses and organizations as an effective model to enable students at all grade levels to significantly improve both their performance on the standardized MCAS and their classroom academic performance.

Currently in pilot phase, T.E.A.M. has operated at 44 Franklin Street (predominantly African-American), and Pelham Apartments. With funding, we can expand the program to include younger (elementary school) children, getting them earlier and making a bigger impact on their lifetime achievements. We now want to take the program to another level to move it from a pilot to a full-fledged program. Framingham State University provides the software and technical assistance to train students for success on MCAS and provide tutors for small group and individual instruction. The public schools provide funding through a Department of Education grant, identify eligible students, and coordinate academic programming needs. The YMCA provide social and recreation opportunities one day a week.

College Scholarship Program extends the work of T.E.A.M. and will provide financial and moral support to a minimum of ten qualified senior high school students and college students each year. The five-member Scholarship Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of Directors, meets five times a year to award at least $10,000 total in scholarships, assist any seniors with college application forms, track the progress of college students they have assisted, and match college students at-risk due to family, social, or other factors with an adult mentor. The mentor tracks the student’s progress in college and is available on an as-needed basis for emotional and academic support.

Mastering Information Technology (M.I.T.) provides access and training to youth and adults in software and Internet applications. AS a result, an increased number will use technology for school, work, community, and creative use. The center will be available five days a week for ten hours a day and will be supervised by volunteers who can also assist users as needed. Three two-hour training courses will be offered during the year—beginner, intermediate, and advanced—to introduce current technology products, services, and trends. Software application tutorial assistance will also be offered.

Community Health Program benefits and empowers youth and adults by providing culturally and racially specific information materials, education forums and symposia and better access to health care services. Collaborating with other organizations—Greater Framingham Community Church, American Cancer Society, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—the Foundation will develop and implement a comprehensive plan to target health care providers, along with minority youth and adults in the MetroWest area.

The needs of at-risk families will be addressed to ensure that they have access to affordable prenatal care, immunizations, nutrition information and check-ups. Health screenings and seminars will be held on issues disproportionately experienced by African-Americans, particularly youth and the elderly. Access to on-line healthcare information will also be provided. The Foundation will establish a database for future application in the planning and research of minority family health needs, and will make this data available to health agencies seeking to serve the minority communities.

We Need Your Support
As members of the broader community, we all have a tremendous opportunity to benefit those who need assistance in mentoring, education, healthcare and in closing the “digital divide.” Volunteers who have a commitment to make a difference in the lives of others are needed. The New Vision Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization which is supported by fundraisers and tax-deductible corporate/private donations. If you are interested in the work of the Foundation, and would like more information on volunteering, making a financial contribution or booking space for community-based programs, please call us at (508) 626-2118.

Ways to Give
General contribution
A contribution to a specific Foundation program


PHASE II: The Academic Learning Resource Center

The most important goal for GFCC is to renovate the existing building space, inclusive of adding an elevator accommodating access the upper floor, which will house the Academic Learning Resource Center. The Resource Center will serve as an educational and training resource for GFCC and the larger MetroWest community. New Vision Foundation expects the Resource Center to further support the broader mission of the church by providing resources for the community to learn about community history through books and art, develop computer literacy and provide job seekers the support they need to become productively employed. Those who take advantage of these resources will be able to integrate their experience and new learning in all areas of their lives.

The Academic Learning Resource Center is expected to provide the following resources and programs:

Library Resource Room

In its commitment to expanding access to resources for the community, the library resource room will collect and offer printed materials relevant to the culture and historical environment of the church and community. It will also provide a place to access the internet electronically through Wi-Fi connections. It will support additional ministries in the community by being a resource for collections for those seeking knowledge related to historical and cultural events surrounding the MetroWest community.

Computer Lab

The foundation recognized their need to become more progressive and put into action, a plan to develop a computer lab which would connect and familiarize youth and adults to current technology. The computer lab will offer training intended for people who have very limited knowledge about current computer technology or who might be interested in advancing their skills to become more marketable. It will prepare both youth and adult students to become comfortable working in the technology environment and hone their basic knowledge.

Additionally, the computer lab will create and expand access for those who are seeking jobs and need to develop résumés, for high school students requiring assistance with college essays, for homemakers returning to the workforce, as well as teaching youth how to keep themselves safe on the internet when accessing social media sites. It will also be added to the foundation’s afterschool program as an area of development and access so children get a head start on their computer and key boarding skills. 

Teleconferencing Center

The Teleconferencing Center will provide teleconferencing for those individuals required to meet for interviews, meetings and trainings, to provide opportunities for interactive conferencing between sites or other churches, community partners, and to provide training opportunities for adults and students. 

MCAS Tutoring and Support

As defined on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website,
“The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is designed to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Law of 1993. This law specifies that the testing program must test all public school students in Massachusetts, including students with disabilities and English Language Learner students. Students must pass the grade 10 tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and one of the four high school Science and Technology Engineering tests as one condition of eligibility for a high school diploma (in addition to fulfilling local requirements).”
Underrepresented minority and low-income students in the MetroWest schools, specifically in Framingham, have consistently underperformed on the MCAS. As a result of this alarming trend, the foundation has already initiated a program designed to promote efficiency in test taking by teaching core principles of time management as well as developing organizing, studying and test taking skills.

College Preparedness Classes

  • Each year, Framingham State University selects a group of students in their academic enrichment programs who have demonstrated the potential to succeed at Framingham State University, but who are identified as likely to benefit from academic support services to achieve their educational objectives. These students are admitted to the University through PLUS (Program Leading to Undergraduate Success). Program participants enroll in the same courses and satisfy the same graduation requirements as all undergraduates at the University.

 

  • The foundation is working in collaboration with Mass Bay Community College and Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary to become a resource site for undergraduate students pursuing both an education in liberal arts as well as and seminary education.
  • In addition to the collaboration with Framingham State University, Mass Bay and Gordon Theological Seminary, New Vision is also engaged with other colleges and community volunteers who have expressed an interest in advocating, supporting, mentoring and encouraging high school students to pursue a college degree.

Arts and Music

New Vision appreciates the diverse culture within the MetroWest community and recognizes the congregation depends on the community’s cultural resources to develop other areas of their lives. The foundation is collaborating with two of these resources, the Framingham Public library, Amazing Arts Center, and the Danforth Museum to build an enriching and robust community cultural\artistic\educational program. New Vision also offers these programs because it understands that some individuals will pursue careers supported in art such as museums, school teachers, fashion design, advertising agencies and print media.

The Danforth Museum offers studio art classes and workshops for all ages and levels of experience. Students are offered the opportunity to learn from professional artists as well as from their fellow students in a supportive art community. New Vision hopes to engage youth through art and art history lessons with, and field trips to, the Danforth Museum in coordination with classroom curriculum.  Youth will participate in interactive programs which will stimulate creativity and enhance cultural understanding and awareness.

Music is, and has always been, an integral part of the church. Throughout history, music in the church has been used and offered to express spiritual and religious praise and worship. A music program, in collaboration with Framingham State University, will be part of GFCC’s expansion of Phase II programs and services. The music program will include singing, music history, instrumental lessons, and exploration of personal musical interpretation.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The STEM Youth Academy will focus on strengthening youth interest and competency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The specific aim is to develop these interests in underrepresented minority youth. The STEM Youth Academy will run educational and training programs in robotics, science and math to encourage and support youth knowledge, skill, and abilities in the STEM fields. New Vision will provide access to enjoyable and engaging STEM programs, in a familiar and supportive environment, while still being educational. The STEM program will invest in multi-level curriculum originally developed in collaboration with the Girl Scouts and now available to community-based organizations with an interest in running engineering programs for children.

In addition, New Vision intends to bring back its Science Club for Girls, to invest resources and support in girls with a developing interest in science fields. As the trends indicate, girls lose interest in science fields as they enter middle and high school. If not captured at an early age, they eventually pursue other fields.

After School Recreational Program

The Afterschool Program seeks to enhance communities and enrich the lives of children in the MetroWest area by providing safe, supportive, and structured environments that support overall health and well-being. Parks Afterschool offers quality educational, recreational, and cultural programs that promote the social, physical, intellectual, and emotional development of children and youth.

Obesity and Health Education for Youth

The recent alarming increase in statistics related to overweight and obese children has motivated GFCC and New Vision to initiate an Obesity and Health Education curriculum for youth. The program will include volunteer health professionals, nutrition specialists, and community organizations with an interest in children’s’ health to work with children on the benefits, behaviors and choices related to healthy eating and overall health. The program will set realistic and attainable goals to include:

  • Journaling daily food choices
  • Working toward eating according to the recommendations established by the Food Guide Pyramid
  • Planning meals
  • Physical activity
  • Recognizing behavioral eating
  • Addressing self-image and body image

 

New Vision is committed to youth and adult health and will model this program after similar successful interventions used in child obesity prevention programs. The program environment will focus on positive self-image, self-esteem, and body image, and not specifically eating, to attain overall healthy behavior.

Mentoring and Character Development

Boys to Men Mentoring Program
The lack of community organized youth activities and the rise of single-parent families and families with two working parents have all reduced the number of accessible adult role models. The 2010 US Census indicates twenty-five percent of children live with a single parent, most often women. In response to this issue, GFCC and New Vision intend to expand its youth outreach establishing a youth mentoring program. Youth mentors help young people socialize with their peers, parents, teachers and community and encourage participants to carry these lessons through their teen years into adulthood to facilitate their learning and understanding, to communicate their feelings, to relate to their peers, and to develop relationships with other adults. The mentoring program will be designed in two parts. First, adults will participate in training to develop abilities in active listening, confidentiality, defining and being a role model, counseling and coaching and other skills necessary to develop their abilities in becoming mentor leaders. Additionally, youth will be paired with these trained adults to receive guidance and wisdom and help youth navigate life in areas such as managing family challenges, being financially responsible, dealing with career issues and accountability in school. Having a mentor can help eliminate the feeling of youth having to tackle life on their own.

The expanded youth mentoring program will exist to provide male role models and help young men and youth within the community, to strengthen their social and emotional development. The effectiveness and success of the New Vision mentoring program will be demonstrated by meeting the following goals and objectives:

  • Mentees will accept mentors to support them and guide them through youth challenges;
  • Mentees will share and document positive interactions with their mentees which, in turn, will promote positive experiences in other areas of their lives; and
  • Mentees will identify the relationship with their mentor as supportive counseling/coaching.

 

Single Parents Support Group Program
Currently, GFCC and New Vision support congregation members to provide mentoring to young women from a local apartment complex. These young women are paired with sorority members associated with the church. These African American and Latina youth are taught empowerment through the social modeling and shared experiences on field trips and discussion groups.