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Oh, The Places They’ll Go

Now incoming students can opt for a year of public service

Starting in the fall of 2015, first-year undergraduates admitted to the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering will be able to spend a year engaged in full-time community service before matriculating at Tufts. Students with the greatest financial need will receive full support to participate in what is known as the Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program.

The inaugural class of Tufts 1+4 Fellows will help provide health care to Native Americans in the Southwest, address economic and educational disparities in Los Angeles, farm amaranth in Mexico, rescue sea otters in Brazil, and care for at-risk children in Madrid, among other endeavors. The sites for Tufts 1+4 include four domestic service organizations, three programs in Latin America, and one in Spain. They will offer young people who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents the opportunity to confront such challenging issues as health disparities, poverty, food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and child welfare.

“I think the exciting range of Tufts 1+4 community service projects and sites will have great appeal to our admitted students,” said Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions, upon the announcement of the sites’ selection. “The array of options feels very much like Tufts, and that should resonate with the kind of engaged, dynamic students we accept.”

Unveiled in February 2014, the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year will operate under the auspices of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. The program has attracted significant financial support from Santander Bank, N.A., through its Santander Universities Division. The Santander gift expands upon initial donor support committed when the program launched.

Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco welcomes the partnership. “Tufts and Santander share a deep commitment to enabling young people to be a force for positive change in the world,” he said. “We are very appreciative of Santander’s generosity.”

For its part, the bank was only too happy to support Tufts 1+4. “Tufts’ commitment to active citizenship, access to education, and global impact is manifested in this program,” said Santander U.S. President and CEO Roman Blanco. “The unique opportunity to apply innovative approaches to local and global challenges will allow students to marry real-world experience with a first-rate education. I am certain that this service year will be transformative for the students and the communities they serve.”

Tisch College selected the service sites after intensive evaluation, including visits to each location. The Tufts 1+4 Fellows will choose from among these organizations: LIFT in Los Angeles and Philadelphia; City Year in Los Angeles and Detroit; the Village for the Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia; Carpe Diem Education in Tucson, Arizona; Amigos de las Americas in Oaxaca, Mexico, and León, Nicaragua; Global Citizen Year in Santa Catarina, Brazil; and United Planet in Madrid. Said Mindy Nierenberg, senior program director at Tisch College, “We wanted to ensure that all our service sites foster critical thinking, cross-cultural collaboration, and a deeper appreciation for civic engagement.”

The goals of Tufts 1+4 especially resonate with Dave Santulli, executive director of United Planet: he is a 2003 graduate of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. United Planet, a Boston-based international nonprofit, will host the 1+4 Fellows in Madrid, where they will work at a residential center for children and teens who have no family to care for them “The 1+4 fellows will not only broaden their global perspectives, but will gain a richer understanding of themselves,” Santulli says. “I am also excited by how much Tufts students back on campus stand to gain as the 1+4 students share their real-life global experiences.”

Alan D. Solomont, A70, A08P, the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of Tisch College, is confident that Tufts 1+4 will appeal to students. “Young people today are hungry for opportunities to make a difference, and there is increased interest among students in performing a year of service before entering college,” he said. “With the generosity of supporters such as Santander, we are able to democratize the bridge year by providing access for students who traditionally would not be able to consider such an experience.”

Solomont went on to say that Tufts is exploring the possibility of a partnership with AmeriCorps, which is overseen by the bipartisan federal program he once chaired. If all the domestic Tufts 1+4 sites were to become part of the national service network, as the City Year and LIFT programs already are, Tufts 1+4 Fellows could “tap into the national community-service movement during their bridge year and beyond.”