Recognizing the value of ASSET Inc.’s innovative approach to high-impact tutoring for both K-12 students and the teachers of tomorrow, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded $275,000 in new state funding to the educational improvement nonprofit’s PALS (Partnerships to Advance Learning in STEM) initiative.
Championed by State Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (Allegheny) and Representatives Jessica Benham (D-Allegheny), Christopher Sainato (D-Lawrence) and Mark Longietti (D-Mercer), this new funding will allow ASSET to more than double the reach of PALS in 2023.
PALS, created by ASSET as a crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic, works with colleges and universities in Western Pennsylvania to train their students who are studying to become teachers to deliver high-impact tutoring virtually to K-12 students who could not otherwise access such one-on-one instructional support.
Specifically, the new state funding will allow ASSET to strengthen its relationship with Carlow University and establish new partnerships with University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown and Westminster College. At each college or university’s school of education, the PALS program will be incorporated into teacher preparation coursework and virtual tutoring will be integrated into their field experiences. These preservice teachers also will receive real-time coaching from experienced educators during their tutoring sessions.
“We are thrilled and tremendously grateful to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and especially to the elected officials who championed this funding to PALS,” said Sarah Toulouse, Executive Director, ASSET Inc. “It not only validates ASSET’s work over the last year to make PALS an ongoing program post-pandemic, it means we can significantly grow our work and impact going forward next year.”
Currently, PALS has nearly 80 preservice educators from who have provided 699 no-cost tutoring sessions to 118 Allegheny County learners. The PDE funding will result in an additional 160 pre-service educators working one-on-one with K-12 students during some 1,500 one-hour tutoring sessions at ASSET’s out-of-school time (OST) program partners in Pittsburgh’s Northside, Lincoln-Larimer and Sheraden neighborhoods.
Meeting with K-12 Students and Virtual Tutors at The Pittsburgh Project
Today, ASSET will host Representative Benham at one of the organizations OST partners, The Pittsburgh Project, allowing her to see firsthand the virtual tutoring in action.
“We thank Leader Costa and Representative Benham for their tireless efforts on behalf of ASSET and PALS, a program that is vital to Pittsburgh’s children and is designed to remediate learning loss caused by the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Toulouse.
“Every child and educator deserve the support they need to recuperate learning loss from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to have worked with colleagues in Harrisburg to secure funding for PALS to prepare educators-in-training for the current educational landscape of virtual learning and tutoring,” said Costa. “ASSET is an invaluable partner to our larger education system in Pennsylvania, and I look forward to seeing the impact of their hard work for many years to come.”
“I’m thrilled that ASSET will be able to continue and expand the PALS program, which is providing quality one-on-one tutoring for many kids and teens in our community who would otherwise not have access to these opportunities,” said Behnam. “I was proud to champion this increase in funding for tutoring for students who need it most, helping to address significant learning loss that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
"The PALS program has been a great addition to The Pittsburgh Project's programs. It has helped us provide consistent and quality academic support to our students while also allocating more of our resources to providing hands-on learning opportunities. We are excited about our partnership with ASSET, knowing that it will allow us to continue to serve more young people and serve them well,” said Rick Mason, Executive Director of The Pittsburgh Project.
Westminster College Preservice Teachers on PALS Program
Tomorrow, ASSET and Westminster College will host Representatives Sainato and Longietti at the college. Together they will meet with current education majors who will serve as virtual tutors and hear directly from their professors how PALS will enhance their teaching preparation and field experiences, and equip them with the skills they will need for the 21st century classroom.
“Thanks to Representatives Sainato and Longietti for their hard work to obtain this funding. It means that Westminster College students in the school of education will have access to expanded learning opportunities that further develop their teaching abilities and set them up for success,” said Toulouse.
“As the modern workplace becomes more tech-oriented, the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – are more important than ever in preparing students to step into high-paying jobs,” Sainato said. “The new funding for the PALS initiative will help equip our teachers-in-training so they can provide virtual tutoring in these subjects to students who might not otherwise have access to one-on-one instruction.”
“Having top-quality education starts with our teachers having the best possible resources,” Longietti said. “With this funding, the PALS program will partner with Westminster College to help education majors develop virtual tutoring skills and other tools for the modern classroom that enhance STEM teaching.”
“The PALS program is a transformational change in the education of students who need one-on-one tutoring to catch up academically after the events of the past years,” said René Antonio Picó, Ph. D., Associate Professor and Chair, School of Education, Westminster College. “We need to maintain a sense of determination and urgency to change how we assist our children and young adults. Westminster College faculty and students are ready to do something innovative to advance the lives of school children and their families.”
Second Grant Announcement in As Many Weeks
Last week, the Appalachian Regional Commission awarded ASSET Inc. a $48,661 POWER grant, coupled with another $30,000 from The Benedum Foundation and EQT Corporation. These funds will enable ASSET to develop plans to expand PALS to additional communities in Allegheny County, as well as establish it in Greene, Indiana, Cambria and Lawrence Counties.
About ASSET Inc.
For more than 30 years, ASSET has been accelerating and amplifying educational excellence by modeling responsive learning environments to allow teachers to be the drivers of educational innovation. Originally conceived by industry to drive science literacy and science education reform, ASSET’s work has evolved to answer the ever-changing needs of educators. ASSET provides relevant, cross-disciplinary teacher professional development, coaching, and project-based learning that translates into student academic achievement. ASSET serves as a convener to connect and collaborate with diverse educational entities and is recognized as an innovator and change-agent by the US Department of Education, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Beyond100K!, and other like-minded stakeholders to elevate the teaching profession. For more information visit, www.assetinc.org.