The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) has been a leader in higher education for over half a century, but now, thanks to a new partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), Pitt SHRS is poised to make an impact in primary and secondary education as well.
A recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PPS lays out the objectives for this partnership, which aims to help create a more equitable and organized out-of-school time environment across Pittsburgh through programming at the SHRS Wellness Pavilion.
Dr. Channing Moreland, director, Wellness Pavilion, explained, “Our vision for out-of-school time (which includes after-school, summer, weekend and school day enrichment/support programs) is for all students to have the opportunity to engage in high quality inclusive programs that support their academics, expand their interests and are exciting and fun. Out-of-school time programs have an important role in helping students succeed in school and in life.”
This partnership will give school-age children in under-resourced communities exposure to STEM-related professions and access to mentorship and learning opportunities with students, researchers and faculty at SHRS.
“This new partnership with PPS will allow SHRS to build effective out-of-school programs for students across the city,” said Dr. Bernard Rousseau, associate dean for Equity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. “Faculty, staff and students will offer activities, events and services, such as summer camps and after-school programming for PPS students in an effort to increase access to and the creation of new pathways to our school’s degree programs, research laboratories and world renowned clinical and research faculty.”
This kind of partnership is vital to helping bridge economic and educational gaps that can help underrepresented and minority students prepare for their future pursuits in post-secondary education. Key to the success of this partnership will be high-quality inclusive programming and effective communications.
Ultimately, the program will take form as the SHRS STEM Mentorship program, which will “offer middle and high school students, student-focused, innovative programming and social supports to contribute to their learning inside and outside the classroom, increase student confidence and to prepare students for college and career entry,” according to the MOU.
As Pitt SHRS continues to forge new paths to help integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into all activities, this partnership promises to help expand the School’s reach into local communities.