Codman Square Tech Center offers ‘gateway’ to college

DotWell, a Dorchester-based community advocacy group, is holding several adult education programs this fall at its tech center in Codman Square. Among DotWell’s education programs are the Clemente course in the Humanities and the Boston-area  Advanced Technological Education Connections (BATEC.) Acceptance into either of the programs guarantees a scholarship to applicants, which pays the cost of tuition and including books and other course materials. 

“The idea is to get people who would like to go to college but are maybe not ready to just walk into the admissions office,” explains Doreen Treacy, the Program Director at DotWell. “We want to be sure that students are ready to enter college after completing these programs.”

Each program is two semesters long. In addition to essentially taking the course for free, students will have the opportunity to earn six college credits for each course upon completion. The Clemente course is an extensive humanities course covering subjects such as literature, philosophy, and art history. Credits are provided by Bard College in New York.

The computer science and information technology course— BATEC— is identical to classes offered at Bunker Hill Community College. The BATEC credits are provided by Bunker Hill and students will also be fully admitted into Bunker Hill through the college’s “Bridge to Community College” feature.

“Bunker Hill is committed to reaching out to the community and DotWell is a well-known community organization with strong case workers. It’s only natural that we would connect to them,” said Michael Puopolo, a Bunker Hill Professor and Chairperson of Computer Information Technology.

DotWell staff envision these programs as the capstone of an educational pathway to college offered through the organization, beginning with their 60-day GED course. DotWell also offers basic computer and technology courses to ease students into the BATEC program. Upon completion of these courses, DotWell staff encourages students to continue their education through career and academic counseling. Many of these programs are made possible largely through DotWell’s extensive network of partners, including UMass Boston, the Mass Humanities Foundation, Roxbury Community College, and the National Science Foundation.

The BATEC and Clemente Courses have been in operation since the fall of 2001. According to Treacy, the organization has had difficulty funding some programs but was “committed to keeping [the BATEC and Clemente courses] open, even if at a loss,” for this year.

DotWell has held matched savings accounts for higher education, where the organization has provided $3,000 for every $1,500 that students save toward their tuition. DotWell has not yet secured funding for the program to continue for another year.  

DotWell, a collaboration between Codman Square Health Center and Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, has been in existence since 1998. DotWell staff continue these programs as part of an approach to creating a healthier Dorchester.

“We feel that building human assets in the community is a key to building health in the community,” said Treacy.