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ASSET Awarded $350,000 Grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to Advance PALS Tutoring Program

A child participating in virtual tutoring

ASSET, Inc. has received a $350,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support the implementation and growth of its nationally-recognized Partnerships to Advance Learning in STEM (PALS) program. PALS provides under-resourced K-12 students in the Pittsburgh region with no-cost virtual tutoring while simultaneously supporting education majors (preservice teachers) with clinical field experience, real-time coaching, and professional development.


The grant will enable ASSET to expand its efforts to create more tutoring opportunities, as well as design a family-based cohort designed to engage parents and caregivers and help preservice teachers learn how to effectively communicate with families. The program is expected to provide more than 130 K-12 students with more than 600 tutoring sessions through multiple Out-of-School Time (OST) organizations that currently provide social support for local children.


“The PALS program was developed with input from higher education institutions training the next generation of teachers and the communities involved in raising the next generation of learners and leaders,” said Sarah Toulouse, Executive Director of ASSET. “With this grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we can further strengthen the connection between students, their families, and educators by encouraging caregiver participation in their children’s learning.”


The grant will also support program evaluation and assessment measures to expand PALS to more students throughout the region. ASSET focuses on providing high-impact tutoring, characterized by substantial time investments with a consistent tutor, which has been shown to be an effective tool in supporting student success. In a meta-analysis of 96 randomized controlled trials of tutoring interventions, tutoring was found to have statistically significant effects for K-12 learners across a variety of ages and program structures.

The Richard King Mellon Foundation awarded the grant to ASSET under its Economic Mobility funding program. The Foundation seeks to address recent learning losses in math, reading, and science literacy that may lead to reduced lifetime earnings for students. PALS offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that benefits under-resourced students.


ASSET has been providing professional development and coaching to educators since 1994. Teacher shortages and vacancies in Pennsylvania have grown in recent years with a particularly high impact in low-income schools. A report from Teach Plus and the National Center on Education and the Economy identified inadequate preparation and clinical experience as one of the systemic root causes of the shortage. “PALS prepares educators entering the workforce with real world experience and resources that help them thrive as teachers and drive systemic education improvement,” said Nina Girard, ASSET Inc. Board Member and Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Education Division. 


About ASSET Inc.

Founded in 1994, ASSET, Inc. is an educational improvement organization headquartered in Pennsylvania that provides rigorous professional learning services for educators nationally. Originally established to drive science literacy and science education reform first in the Pittsburgh region and then throughout Pennsylvania, ASSET provides teacher training, coaching and project-based learning that translates into student academic achievement. ASSET’s specialized approach has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and other leading STEM organizations as a model for achieving student success through excellence in teaching. For more information, visit []


About the Richard King Mellon Foundation

Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2022 year-end net assets were $2.8 billion, and its Trustees in 2022 disbursed more than $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.


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