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SouthSide Elementary Charter School Fund
By Jean Cohoon / July 28, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
They’re mostly just five to seven years old, yet the students at SouthSide Elementary Charter School are setting ambitious education goals. “We’re sparking their interest, early on, in going to college,” Wendy Randle, SouthSide’s director of education, says of the students’ recent field trips to area universities.

SouthSide Elementary Charter School, housed in the Community Preparatory School building on Providence’s Somerset Street, opened in the fall of 2014 with a kindergarten class. It is adding one grade each year until it includes kindergarten through fifth grade. “SouthSide provides an opportunity for younger children to access a school like Community Prep, with the same philosophy and values,” explains Eileen Hayes, president of the SouthSide board and CEO of Amos House, one of the school’s many community partners.

In addition to providing its students with a solid step toward college, SouthSide emphasizes community engagement and leadership. Students have organized food and coat drives, and have participated in a cleanup at the Davey Lopes Recreational Center, which they use for physical education classes. “It gets the kids out into the community and shows them how powerful it is to give back,” Wendy shares.

SouthSide’s enrollment for the 2015-16 school year was 49 kindergarteners and first graders. They are from a myriad of ethnic backgrounds, 40 were eligible for free lunch, and several have been homeless. “We’re able to provide the supports the children and families need,” Wendy says of the 15-person staff.

“It’s a real community,” Eileen believes, with Wendy adding, “The parents are the most engaged and invested I’ve ever worked with. And the commitment of the teachers and staff is amazing.”

SouthSide established this endowment with a gift from a generous donor. “His passion is education, and when he visited the school, he loved the kids immensely and was impressed by how the teachers managed learning and made it fun at the same time,” Eileen recalls.

She continues, “We decided to set the endowment up through the Rhode Island Foundation so we could access additional resources. And having a pool of money will allow us to do more special things for the kids.”
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