The Goldfarb Center and CCAK

Amy Lu '09 with Sierra
Founded in 2003 with a generous gift from Trustee William Goldfarb ’68, P’00, and a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement has quickly made a name for itself, offering world-class academic programs and a growing array of civic engagement opportunities to Colby students, and presenting programs and services for people and groups outside of the College. The center brings faculty and students together with local, state, national, and international leaders to explore creative, interdisciplinary approaches to the complex challenges facing the world.

On the local level, the Goldfarb Center took over management last fall of the Colby Cares About Kids program (CCAK), which pairs Colby student mentors with kindergarten through eighth grade children in local schools. Now in its new home in the Diamond Building, the Goldfarb Center conducts training seminars for mentors and has helped the program grow from around 160 mentors to more than 320.

Principal Harriet Trafford at the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville calls Colby mentors “heroes” to the children who need them the most. “Almost immediately our students make a connection to someone who gives them their undivided attention, someone they can talk to without being judged,”

she said. “Our students learn how to build meaningful relationships with a person who shows them respect and is consistent over time.”

“We have a large number of students who need an extra adult in their life,” said Alice Hammond, a teacher at Waterville Junior High School. Though the primary focus of the program is not academic, mentors often assist students with their homework, providing a badly needed service, she said. “Perhaps the most rewarding part of coordinating this program is in the fall, when the mentor pairs see each other again after the long summer break. The smiles, hugs, and excitement are wonderful.”

Alison McArdle ’07, a history and international studies major from Lowell, Massachusetts, is a member of the CCAK Advisory Committee and finds the work challenging. “I’ve learned a lot about running a program, problem solving, and organizing large groups of people,” she said. Now in her fourth year of mentoring, she meets twice a week with her student. Alison and many of her friends have been drawn into the lives of their students, getting to know friends, teachers, and parents. “It’s a long-standing commitment, not something we take lightly,” she said.

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