Berkshire United Way to Fund 'Berkshire County Goes to College'


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a grant award of $11,000 from the Berkshire United Way to support Berkshire County Goes to College, an annual event held by The Berkshire Compact for Education and MCLA.

This grant will enable approximately 1,200 sixth grade students from Berkshire County's public schools to visit MCLA, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Williams College.

The "Berkshire County Goes to College" initiative is an important milestone in the Compact's Passport to College - a plan to help improve access to a college education.  It provides the opportunity for every sixth grade student in the County to visit a local college campus in April, and is part of an effort to raise awareness of college in Berkshire County residents at an early age.

At the sixth grade visits, each college campus provides a unique sampling of college life, exposing students to academics, extracurricular activities and campus life. Students are broken into groups and rotate through a series of 20-30 minute workshops. Workshop topics vary from year to year, and cover a range of subjects.

The Berkshire Compact for Education was developed to address the education needs of Berkshire County residents and employers. The Compact is comprised of members from key area employment sectors, including cultural institutions, finance, healthcare and specialty manufacturing, along with school superintendents, college administrators and faculty, municipal officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations.

In total, the Berkshire United Way is investing $1.36 million in 43 grant awards for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and continuing through June 30, 2014. The primary focus is to improve outcomes in early childhood education and youth development.

These educational outcomes, combined with employment and financial stability, serve as critical building blocks to ensure a high quality of life and to help secure the future of the entire community, according to Mary Nash, Berkshire Compact project coordinator.

For more information about "Berkshire County Goes to College Day," contact Bernadette Lupo at MCLA, 413- 662-5203,