By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Wellesley A Better Chance (Wellesley ABC), the local chapter of a national program that offers young people of color access to top schools, has launched a campaign to purchase a permanent home. For 48 years, their program has helped educate nearly 100 women of color at Wellesley High School, all of whom have graduated and attended college, leading successful careers.
Wellesley A Better Chance was launched in 1972 as a Community School chapter of ABC National, one of the first of 20 such programs in the nation at top public high schools. Since its founding, between six and eight Wellesley ABC scholars have attended Wellesley High School each year and lived in a house with a resident director. For 48 years, that home has been generously donated by Wellesley College, but in the spring of 2018, the college informed the ABC board that it would be repurposing the house for its own needs within three years. As a result, Wellesley ABC embarked on the capital campaign to purchase a permanent home for the program. The board hoped to find a home in Wellesley that could continue to accommodate at least six scholars and a resident director and resident tutor, and have announced that they have found such a home.
“Wellesley ABC is nearly 100 percent supported by the community, and our goal was to raise $1.2 million to cover the purchase and initial renovations,” said Jay McHale, co-chair of the “A Home of Our Own” capital campaign. “We have signed an agreement to purchase a new home! It’s walking distance to the high school and set up so the program can grow from our current six scholars to eight. We are still a bit short of our goal, to close without taking on a mortgage, and with a closing date of April 1, we need everyone’s help to close the gap.”
“Having the ABC scholars as part of Wellesley High School has been a gift for us,” said Dr. Jamie Chisum, principal of Wellesley High School. “Each girl brings with her a fresh set of experiences and talents. Each, in her own way, adds a dimension to our community that otherwise would have been missed.”
“Wellesley ABC helped me to attend a school with many wonderful educational resources, which enhanced my learning and the opportunities that I had available to me later in life,” said previous ABC scholar Meccasia Zabriskie (1998), professor of sociology at New College of Florida.
Wellesley ABC is run by a group of volunteers and always looking for new help: after-school drivers, event planners, host families, academic advisors, graphic artist and more. To volunteer and for more information, contact Wellesley ABC at: 396 Washington Street, Box 221, Wellesley, MA 02481 or email@example.com, www.wellesleyabc.org.
Last year, Wellesley ABC co-presidents Ingrid Houghton and Catherine Ward spoke about ABC with Wellesley Media. To watch their interview, visit https://youtu.be/IRSfdfmmCKY.