WASHINGTON (March 7, 2014) – While many students shy away from hard work during their spring vacation, a growing number of young adults use their spring academic recess to embrace community goals aimed to serve a greater good. Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) are known to be selected based on the strength of their academic achievement and demonstrated leadership skills, yet acceptance of the Gates scholarship award also demands a commitment to service. This year’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) – to be held March 9-15, 2014 – will bring nearly 60 Gates Scholars to serve various communities throughout Boston.
“Alternative Spring Break is one of our most popular and successful programs offered to Gates Scholars,” said Kelvin Harris, Senior Relationship Manager for UNCF’s Leadership Development Programs. “As recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, it is expected that Scholars use their gifts, talents and privileges to give back and impact the lives of others.”
ASB engages current Gates Scholars in community-based service projects, focused on education and public health issues. These opportunities offer first-hand knowledge of issues facing local communities. Past service projects have made use of students for cleanup efforts from Hurricane Katrina and also with educational endeavors at the Native American College Academy.
For ASB 2014, Gates Scholars will volunteer at 13 high-impact community service projects throughout greater Boston. In the course of one week, Scholars will directly impact citizens through their service efforts:
- building high-quality toddler beds at the New England Carpenter’s Fund in Dorchester;
- tutoring adults and children for college success;
- revitalizing a public elementary school in Lawrence;
- leading science experiments in two Boston Public elementary schools; and
- organizing and distributing food in food pantries, as well as serving meals to residents living with HIV/AIDS
GMS program organizers began ASB in 2009, in alliance with the United Way of America. The pilot ASB featured three Scholars who joined service projects in Detroit, Gulfport (MS) and Terre Haute (IN). Subsequent partners have been United Way Worldwide and HandsOn Bay Area. This year’s partner is Boston Cares, the largest volunteer action center in New England.
“Boston Cares and our partner agencies are looking forward to hosting the Gates Scholars,” said Patrice Keegan, Executive Director of Boston Cares. “We’ve seen what they’ve done in other cities and their combination of smarts and enthusiasm is exciting. We have set up opportunities, especially around directly mentoring youth, to ‘paying it forward’ to the next generation of potential Gates Scholars. It
says so much about these young leaders that they are giving back during their time off.”
Previous ASB sites have included New Orleans (2010), San Francisco Bay Area (2011), Philadelphia (2012), and Albuquerque (2013).
About Gates Millennium Scholars Program
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program was established in 1999 through a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. GMS aims to educate “Leaders for America’s Future”™ by providing eligible students with the opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in the discipline of their choice and continue through to a doctoral degree in seven GMS funded fields. Thanks to a range of financial, academic and leadership
support, Gates Scholars have an average graduation rate that exceeds that of the overall college population and mirrors the graduation rate of students from high-income families. Learn more at http://www.gmsp.org
About Boston Cares
Boston Cares is the largest volunteer agency in New England, an Innovation Hub within the national Hands On Network and a leader in the volunteer engagement sector. Our year-round volunteer programs and seasonal signature service events engage adults of all ages, children & teens and corporate partners. Boston Cares annually mobilizes 21,000 volunteers who serve 65,000 hours in support of 155 schools and nonprofits. Every $1 invested in Boston Cares returns at least $4 of value to the community through volunteer labor, supplies, equipment and other services.