That’s Noelia Lugo, a Dorchester 5th grader, and Michelle Obama. It happened yesterday when UMass Boston’s Project ALERTA was awarded the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at the White House.
This is the nation’s highest honor for after-school and out of school arts and humanities programs, particularly those that reach underserved children and youth.
University Advancement had worked with the project secretly for months, once we learned last summer that the award was within the program’s reach. We developed a “We’re the Best in the U.S.” website and had the pleasure of letting the program’s private donors know that the program they had believed in through their financial investment was to share the national spotlight.
ALERTA was selected as one of 15 programs from more than 400 nominations for its excellence in developing new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day.
Founded in 1988 at UMass Boston, this academic enrichment program has provided more than 3,000 struggling Latino students and English Language Learners in the Boston Public Schools with the skills, confidence, and motivation to achieve academic success in high school and beyond.
With high school dropout rates for Latinos in Boston — and the nation — approaching 50 percent, the program’s engaging curriculum, child development focus, and supportive learning environment have inspired 3rd through 5th graders to develop a passion for learning and realize the importance of education.
After months of getting to know ALERTA’s directors, teachers, and students we fell in love with them and the hope they represent for America’s future. People like Lucia Mayerson-David ’71 a UMass Boston alumna who is a paragon of the university’s approach of using knowledge to enrich the community. Our hard work (a privilege, really) made our brief mid-morning huddle around a computer watching the White House Ceremony exceptionally sweet.
Our video shows Noelia and Lucia talking about ALERTA and its companion program, Talented and Gifted (TAG). I’ll bet you’ll fall in love with them too. If you do, you can meet them and others like them at an upcoming celebration of 25 Years of Transforming Lives, an anniversary celebration being hosted by the programs on December 4, 2010.Learn more