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NewsAug 14, 2018

Lesley embarks on New Bedford partnership

Rising Tide Educational Initiative seeks to elevate educational and workforce development opportunities in the New Bedford area

children at table together

Lesley University and the DeMello International Center, with the support of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, today announced an exciting and dynamic educational partnership to contribute to the educational and economic vitality of the New Bedford community by offering affordable, accessible and high-quality graduate, undergraduate and professional development programs.

Through this innovative collaboration, called the Rising Tide Educational Initiative, Lesley will support educators currently teaching in the Greater New Bedford area by offering master’s degrees and professional development and by providing bachelor’s degree completion programs for adult learners returning to the classroom.

Through Lesley and other Rising Tide partners, the initiative will also offer professional development for individuals working with children outside of public school settings and provide ESL and support services for local families and their children to help overcome cultural and language barriers. The partners will also host various educational events at the DeMello International Center to meet the needs of the New Bedford community.

Leaders from Lesley and the Rising Tide partners stand in a line behind long ribbon being cut in the DeMello International Center.
Officials celebrated the new Rising Tide Educational Initiative with a ribbon cutting. Photo by New Bedford Mayor's Office

View more photos from the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Throughout its 110 year history, Lesley has created innovative ways to develop and provide access to exciting, and often life changing, educational opportunities. We are very pleased to announce this new collaboration and to have the chance to work with the New Bedford community,” said Lesley President Jeff A. Weiss. “We are honored to partner with the DeMello International Center and grateful for the help and support of DeMello Center founder James DeMello and Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office in launching this groundbreaking initiative.”

Lesley University will offer bachelor’s degree completion coursework and support at the DeMello International Center site and seeks to partner with Bristol Community College and others to create seamless transfer pathways for students earning associate degrees leading to bachelor degree programs.

“It is critical for Lesley to continue to create access to bachelor’s degrees so that adult learners are able to complete degrees and be competitive in the workforce,” said Lesley’s Assistant Vice President for Adult Learning Programs Jennifer A. Serowick. “This initiative will help reduce barriers typically faced by returning adult students by providing affordable and convenient degree completion models that recognize transfer credits and prior learning in a flexible and supportive setting.”

Dr. Serowick added, “Bachelor’s degree completion is the cornerstone of increased economic and employment opportunities and is also correlated with benefits that extend beyond employment to better health, increased educational opportunities for children and increased participation in the overall community, among many other positive outcomes.”

A leading teacher-preparation institution in New England, Lesley will also offer graduate education programs at the DeMello Center and in New Bedford area school districts, including specializations in high-need areas such as math, science and English Language Learning (referred to as ELL or ESL).

“We will provide accessible and targeted professional development to help meet the needs of local districts facing a shortage of teacher candidates for ESL, special education and other areas critical for student success,” said Richard S. Hansen, interim dean of Lesley’s Graduate School of Education.

PhD candidates in the classroom
It's critical for Lesley to create access to bachelor’s degrees so that adult learners are competitive in the workforce.

Added New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Anderson, “New Bedford Public Schools looks forward to working in conjunction with Lesley University and the DeMello International Center to provide educational opportunities for educators and families in the New Bedford community.”

The initiative will also encompass high-quality educational preparation for non-licensed education professionals who work with students in a variety of settings, ranging from classroom aides to camp counselors and athletic coaches. Additionally, Rising Tide will provide coursework and programming to help parents and guardians overcome barriers to become successful advocates for their children.

“The DeMello International Center and the DeMello Charitable Foundation are partnering with Lesley University to create a new paradigm for the Greater New Bedford area to elevate the educational workforce, create opportunities for adult learners, and ultimately, to challenge the status quo and improve the future for all children and families,” said James DeMello, a New Bedford businessman and philanthropist who opened the DeMello International Center in 2016 to enhance educational and workforce opportunities for the community.

“Because a quality public education starts with effective classroom instruction, it is exciting that the partnership between the DeMello International Center and Lesley University will provide another pipeline of teaching talent to Greater New Bedford’s school districts,” said Mayor Mitchell. “Current and aspiring teachers also will benefit from Lesley’s nationally acclaimed training programs, while learning in a highly appealing downtown setting. Jim DeMello and Lesley University President Jeff Weiss deserve tremendous credit for making it happen.”

The DeMello Charitable Foundation will provide significant financial contributions to support this important work, primarily in the form of student scholarships and stipends that remove the financial barrier that many adults face when deciding to continue or advance their education. Lesley and the Rising Tide Educational Initiative will also seek additional grant funding and resources as the partnership expands. 

The Rising Tide Educational Initiative will be headquartered at the DeMello International Center at 128 Union St., New Bedford, where Lesley will house a state-of-the-art teaching space to support the work. Other educational and charitable organizations with offices at the DeMello Center are: Better Community Living, Carney Foundation, Discovery Language Academy, Greater New Bedford Housing Authority, Hair in Motion Cosmetology Academy, Junior Achievement, Master Urban Educators, New Bedford Symphony, United Way and YMCA, among many others.

A ribbon cutting for the

initiative was held today, Aug. 14 at 11 a.m., in the lobby of the DeMello International Center.

To learn more about the initiative or inquire about opportunities, email DeMello@lesley.edu or call 617.349.8428.