WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Directors of the non-profit Greylock ABC Inc. are asking the public to join them on Monday night to discuss how the charity should use an endowment which documents show is approximately $900,000 -- after shutting down its 47-year-old residential scholars program spawned in the nation’s civil-rights era.
“We're hosting a community forum on Monday night at MGRHS, great chance for people to find out what's happening,” ABC board co-president Michael Williams wrote in a Nov. 4 post on his Facebook page. “"We know how much this program means to so many in our community and we would like everyone to know where we are, how we got here, and where we're going."
The “community forum” is at 7 p.m. In Mount Greylock Regional High School meeting room and is public. Options could include dissolving and turning Greylock ABC’s cash over to another charity, using it gradually or rapidly for charitable purposes that fit its mission of fostering diversity and reducing educational inequality -- or something else.
ABC stands for “A Better Chance.” The Greylock ABC is an affiliate of the national A Better Chance program. Its purpose was to provide high-school students from educationally disadvantaged settings in America the opportunity to attend elite private prep schools and summer programs with a goal: "To substantially increase the number of underrepresented youth assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society." (WATCH VIDEO)
Greylock ABC Inc. has been an independent educational non-profit organization for academically talented students from educationally underserved communities. One of the oldest ABC public school programs in the country, Greylock ABC had over 47 years sent more than 80 graduates to top colleges. ABC programs operate in more than 20 public high schools, including Massachusetts communities such as Winchester, Wellesley, Andover and Amherst.
“Diversity enriches the Wellesley community,” says the Wellesley website. “Get involved.” Graduates of A Better Chance programs nationally include former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. NPR profiled the national program in a 2013 audio story around its 50th anniversary. (WATCH VIDEO)
Greylock ABC closed its residential program this spring after 47 years of educating visiting scholars at MGRHS. The last Greylock ABC residential scholar will graduate from the Buxton School in June, 2017. Each year, up to eight students enrolled at Mt. Greylock Regional High School and lived, during the academic year, at the ABC house on Hoxsey Street in Williamstown.
"We're excited about our future and look forward to sharing this excitement with the greater community," Williams added in a statement.
Phil Smith, one of three originators of the Williamstown affiliate, wrote about its history in The Greylock Independent in an Aug. 25, online post. ABC set up living quarters in a house it at 58 Hoxsey Street, next to the Williams campus, until this spring, when directors decided to end the residential program and sell the house to Williams College for $528,000. The house abuts where Williams will soon start construction on a new science buildling.
Public records show that on its 2012-2013 tax return, Greylock ABC Inc. had $594,709 in unrestricted net assets, including the house, which was then valued at $234,921. So the additional of the cash from the building sale to Williams should leave the charity with up to $900,000 and no specific program to spend or raise money for.
Until now, three has been little public discussion of the reasons why ABC decided to abandon its commitment to providing education to disadvantaged high-school students. In private, various board members have cited factors including:
- Difficulties retaining adult resident managers of the ABC house on Hose Street when the teen scholars had been housed.
- Chronic disciplinary or academic performance challenges with recent scholars.
- A declining pool of talented, yet disadvantaged scholars applying (or being recruited) to the program.
"Now that the question of continuing the Greylock ABC is under scrutiny by community organizers and present and past administrators, a reappraisal of how it has contributed to the life of Williamstown naturally includes a closer look at its history,” Phil Smith wrote in the August article.