by Steven J. Maurano ’78, ‘06P, ‘07P
I want to commend The Cowl opinion writer Savannah Plaisted ’21 for her thoughtful piece on Providence College’s community service (“PC Community Service: Begin Locally First”), which appeared on the front page of the Sept. 26 issue of The Cowl. She is correct – Providence public schools are in dire need of help and assistance on many fronts.
However, it would be wrong to assume that PC is not doing anything to support Providence Public Schools. I was pleased to see The Cowl include a photo of our Faith Works and Urban Action students accompanying the continuation of the article on pg. 6. Although Ms. Plaisted did not make mention of this in her piece, students from those programs, along with students from the Transitions program, were a huge help this August at Harry Kizirian Elementary School on Camden Avenue and at Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School on Eaton Street. PC students painted classrooms and other rooms in these schools, moved furniture, and helped teachers set up their classrooms in preparation for the school year. The Providence School Department was extremely grateful and praised our students on social media for their assistance and support.
In addition to PC students’ support of physical buildings, the College developed a summer program several years ago at the request of then-Mayor Angel Tavares. This program, now called PC Pathways to College (PCPC), is for rising high school seniors in Providence Public Schools and has now run for the last five summers. Students are nominated for the program by their guidance counselors, and it is free of charge to those accepted. PCPC is similar in scope to Friar Foundations, the program for incoming first-year students at PC, minus the residential component. Students in the high school program take two classes for five weeks, a writing course and a course in college access and success, with a library research component, for which they receive college credit. In addition to offering free tuition, PC pays for the students’ books, their lunch, and free public transportation to assist them in getting to and from campus. I know there is at least one graduate of this program who is now a current student here at PC.
Lastly, you should know that PC President Fr. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., along with his fellow college and university presidents throughout Rhode Island, met recently with the new K-12 Commissioner of Education, Angélica Infante-Green. Commissioner Infante-Green asked each president to conduct an inventory of what their institution is doing in conjunction with Providence Public Schools. Those inventories will be submitted within the next few weeks, and Commissioner Infante-Green’s staff will analyze them to see what is being covered adequately and where the gaps exist. A second meeting with the presidents is planned for late October, and I presume Commissioner Infante-Green will be asking colleges and universities what they can do to assist her in meeting the needs and filling those gaps.
Thank you for your interest in this issue. It is an important one and PC will undoubtedly play a role to assist Providence Public Schools going forward.