Community Spotlight: African Community Education
African Community Education (ACE) was founded to support and serve children fleeing the Liberian civil war in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, these children were placed in classes based on their age rather than on their education level. With no previous access to formal education, their success in the classroom was severely hindered.
Seeing these struggles, Liberian refugee Kaska Yano and University of Massachusetts medical student Olga Valdman teamed up to form a one-on-one tutoring and homework program.
About African Community Education
Quickly realizing the need for a larger program, Yano and Valdman partnered with members of their local African community and medical students to form African Community Education in 2006. ACE expanded to serve not only Liberian-born immigrants but all African-born immigrants including refugees, recent immigrants, and children of immigrants.
Kaska Yano and Dr. Olga Valdman remain vital to ACE today, serving as Executive Director and Chair of the Board of Directors, respectively.
African Community Education works as a liaison between students, parents, and the school system, ensuring that individual education and familial needs are met. ACE also connects students to mentors, offering one on one support and assistance. They understand that support equals success and remain committed to their mission to provide education and opportunity by providing comprehensive support.
Locals are encouraged to volunteer and help make a difference in the lives of students in need. ACE has volunteer opportunities on school days as well as weekends, where volunteers assist with extra-curricular education and outreach.
Programs at ACE
In 2007, African Community Education partnered with Worcester Public Schools and started the “Saturday Program”, an informal extra day of school for students in need. Just a year later, they expanded the school system’s after-school programs as well as forming the “Workforce Development Program” and “Summer Reading Program”. The following year, ACE began an outreach program to connect with students’ families and provide balanced and comprehensive support to ensure their success and that of their families.
In 2013, African Community Education introduced a mentoring program to expand their educational services to African-born immigrants and their children. The following year, ACE began the “Family Education Program”, offering citizenship classes and English classes for parents and an early literacy playgroup for children. They have been serving African-born immigrants and their families and working tirelessly to expand these services ever since.
Support African Community Education
African Community Education continues their mission, but they need your support. With nearly 20,000 African-born immigrants and their children living in Worcester, and 30% living within 200% of the poverty line, ACE’s work is never done. Currently, they are able to serve a little over 6% of this population, leaving many in our area in need of critical services.
Each donation goes a long way. Be sure to show your support by donating via ACE’s Kupanda donation program, volunteering your time, or attending one of their fundraising/outreach events. They even host an annual gala if you’re looking to get fancy.
Follow them on Facebook for more info on events.