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Restarting Possible in Our Communities

I believe that UP Academy stands for something more than discipline, more than high school or college. I believe that UP Academy stands for change.

Jada Cassamajor, UP Academy Boston Graduate

Massachusetts is known as a national leader in education, but the Commonwealth’s strong reputation masks deep disparities. In 2014, more than 14,200 students were enrolled in the state’s lowest-performing and chronically underperforming elementary and middle schools. Of these students, roughly 80% attend schools in three cities: Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield.

UP Education Network views the striking achievement gap as the most critical Civil Rights issue of the 21st Century. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to all students, proudly partnering with the Boston Public Schools, the Lawrence Public Schools, and soon, the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership. Our scholars are acquiring the knowledge, skills, and strength of character necessary to succeed on the path to college and to unlock their full potential.

We are so honored to be a part of the communities in which we live and work. Our hope is that you fall in love with our cities as much as we have.

Our Work in Boston

Boston is the birthplace of public education in the United States. Although many high-performing public schools across the city are flourishing and delivering an excellent education to fortunate students, the city is also home to some of Massachusetts’ lowest-performing schools in which students do not have access to what they deserve.

We launched our work in Boston to eliminate this inequity. We partner with the City and the Boston Public Schools to restart and rapidly transform the district’s chronically underperforming schools into extraordinary schools called UP Academies. We make bold changes to the existing schools’ academic curriculum, support services, and operating procedures, as well as establish a new school climate based on high expectations and a balance of rigor and joy.

We have restarted and continue to manage three schools in Boston:

  • UP Academy Boston: formerly the Patrick F. Gavin Middle School, where fewer than 1 in 3 students could read and do math at grade level.
  • UP Academy Holland: formerly the John P. Holland Elementary School, where fewer than 1 in 5 students could read and do math at grade level.
  • UP Academy Dorchester: formerly the John Marshall Elementary School, where fewer than 1 in 7 students could read and do math at grade level.

7 Reasons We Love Boston

  1. We. Love. Sports. Whether you’re a diehard fan or a casual observer, you’ll find the energy of Boston infectious. Take in a Celtics or Bruins game at TD Garden, spend 9 innings with the Sox at historic Fenway Park, or watch the Patriots at your neighborhood spot.
  2. We’re a City of Neighborhoods. Boston is distinguished by its vibrant neighborhoods; we’ve got 23! Check out Dorchester, Allston, the South End, the North End, South Boston, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain,…We’re sure you’ll find a place you love.
  3. Nom Nom Nom. Love food? So do we. Some of our favorite (and most frequented) spots include Lincoln Tavern, Savin Bar and Kitchen, Union Oyster House, the Painted Burro, and the Blarney Stone.
  4. We’re a Community of Learners. Boston is home to one of the densest populations of colleges and universities in the country. Spend time visiting the campuses of Northeastern, MIT, UMass Boston, or Tufts. Attend a public lecture or visit the art museums at Harvard. Take a class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Check out the Frozen Four at UMass Lowell, a football game at Boston College, or some more hockey at Boston University.
  5. We Have Our Own Broadway. Looking for some entertainment? Check out the Blue Man Group, attend a show at the Opera House, or let the sounds of the Symphony take you away. Boston’s theater district offerings change frequently and are a great way to spend the evening!
  6. You Can Walk History. Discover the rich history of the American Revolution: spend some time on the Freedom Trail or marvel over art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Journey back to the present and explore Faneuil Hall, try an experiment at the Museum of Science, or strike some pins bowling!
  7. Classic New England Fall Foliage. Have you seen how pretty our city is, especially in the fall?

Our Work in Lawrence

The City of Lawrence, located just 25 miles north of Boston, is commonly referred to as the “Ellis Island of Massachusetts.” Since the mid-1800s, the City has welcomed waves of immigrants who have helped shape Lawrence’s rich culture and heritage. Public education in Lawrence, though, has not always had such a positive trajectory, with the City plagued in more recent years by a chronically underperforming school system. In fact, during the 2010-11 school year, only 19% of 8th grade students were demonstrating grade-level proficiency in math. Annually, more than one out of every four students dropped out of high school.

In November 2011, the Lawrence Public Schools was placed into state receivership by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education. The state receiver brought in UP Education Network to help in the efforts to transform an entire school district. We are proud to be a partner in this historic work, helping ensure that all students—particularly those who are English language learners or who are students with disabilities—have access to an excellent education.

In making bold changes to the existing schools, we serve the same students that attended the struggling schools.

We have restarted and continue to manage two schools in Lawrence:

  • UP Academy Leonard: formerly the James F. Leonard Middle School, where fewer than 1 in 5 students could read and do math at grade level.
  • UP Academy Oliver: formerly the Henry K. Oliver Middle School, where fewer than 1 in 5 students could read and do math at grade level.

Our two schools in Lawrence have remained traditional neighborhood, non-charter schools through their transformation process. Enrollment in these schools, like all K-8 schools in Lawrence, is determined strictly by a student’s home address within the city rather than through a lottery system. As a result, our schools enroll many tens of new students throughout the academic year, including many students who have just moved to the United States for the first time.

An Insider’s Guide to Lawrence, MA

Community Spotlight

The City of Lawrence offers many recreational, historical and cultural attractions. To name just a few, Lawrence features:

  • 31 parks, including Campagnone Common, where community events are held; Den Rock, an ideal area to hike or bird-watch; and Riverfront Park, which provides boat access to Merrimack River.
  • Essex Art Center, the City’s main art exhibition space and host for a wide range of cultural activities.
  • The Feast of Three Saints (also known as the Italian Festival), which has been celebrated in Lawrence for 91 years and draws close to 75,000 visitors from throughout New England.
  • The Bread and Roses Festival, which has been celebrated in Lawrence for over 30 years. The Festival pays tribute to the city’s contributions to the development of labor laws in the nation. The festival is about creating and maintaining a dialogue on labor and social justice history, and encouraging action to resolve issues that persist in the present day.
  • Semana Hispana (Hispanic Week), which was founded in 1979 by a group of Hispanic leaders to promote the richness of the Hispanic culture in Lawrence.
  • Dining spots every foodie will love, with delicious Dominican food at El Tipico Restaurant and Pollo Tipico, Mexican delights at Café Azteca, Italian favorites at Salvatore’s, El Salvadorean wonders at Tacos Lupitas, and fresh breads and pastries at Tripoli Bakery.

Living Options Galore

When you work in Lawrence, you have the flexibility to decide whether to live the city life, reside in a small town, or find a mix in an eclectic neighborhood.

  • Does loft living appeal? Several old mill properties in Lawrence have been renovated and feature a stylish and more affordable alternative to the pricey Boston rental market. The Monarch Lofts offer sophisticated, eco-friendly space along the banks of the Merrimack River.
  • Nearby Lowell has a vibrant downtown space, full of shops, art studios, and restaurants. You can find an affordable urban loft apartment or a single family home with a yard a short commute to work.
  • Boston is a quick 30-minute drive south of Lawrence, and offers a plethora of city-living options.
  • Southern New Hampshire is just a short drive away from our Lawrence schools, allowing you to build roots in a small community.
  • The small New England communities of Salem, Reading, and Wakefield offer a cozy, family-friendly option for living.

Prime New England Access

Lawrence is conveniently located to some of New England’s great treasures.

Be a Community Change Agent

Lawrence is a “gateway” city, home to some of the most culturally rich and vibrant communities in New England. Although the city has struggled, it is now at the forefront of a revitalization effort where you could play a unique role in being part of Massachusetts’ first turnaround school district. Join Groundwork Lawrence, GLYPN, or Lawrence Community Works in community change. Your work matters here in a big way.