By Jaclyn Reiss, Town Correspondent (this article appeard on

Jewish Family Service of Metrowest recently received a $30,000 grant from the anonymous Boston-based foundation to support a program to close education achievement gaps at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham.

Wilson Elementary serves a culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged student body, according to the organization.

“This is your urban poverty elementary school in suburbia,” said JFS CEO Marc Jacobs. “When you think about the gigantic achievement gaps that are there for children in the commonwealth, you usually think about Lawrence and Lowell and Mission Hill and the like, but it’s also right here in Framingham.”

The grant will help fund the nonprofit’s Reducing Achievement Gaps program for the 2012-2013 school year, which promotes academic success, healthy life styles, and attends to basic needs and family stability for the students.

“There’s an incredibly magnificent group of children that are facing the exact type of challenges we usually talk about in much bigger cities,” Jacobs said. “This body of work is reducing their achievement gaps and giving them a better shot at having more complete lives.”

Reducing Achievement Gaps has many individual programs to help students, including an academic extended-day program providing tutoring in literacy, math and science; a weekend nutrition program distributing fresh fruits and vegetables; a hunger response providing food to the neediest families; and a case management program to support parents in providing financially stable homes.

“Because Reducing Achievement Gaps touches our most vulnerable children, they are able to fully participate in their educational journey,” said Robin Welch, the school’s principal. “I see it as the beginning of their realization of opportunity.”

JFS said with the addition of the grant, which will fund about one-quarter of next year’s budget, they will have the needed resources to provide valuable and necessary services to these children and families.

The United Way of Tri-County and a diverse group of corporate, family and community foundations are also core supporters, the nonprofit said.

If you are interested in making an contribution to the Reducing Achievement Gaps, or any other program at JFS, please contact: Susan at 508-875-3100,, or on their website.

Thanksgiving Meals Woodrow Wilson School 11-22-11 010.jpgA group of JFS staff and volunteers packing fresh fruit and vegetables for dozens of families as part of Reducing Achievement Gaps “Healthy Harvest” food distribution.


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