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  • Make a gift to Vassar’s Urban Education Initiative

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  • What we do

    The Vassar College Urban Education Initiative (VCUEI) has been connecting Vassar College to the City of Poughkeepsie public school district since 2003. The programs are designed to increase educational opportunity for public school students in Kindergarten through 12th grade and to foster a connection between Vassar and its immediate community. Programming will serve students from ages 5 to 18, as well as  parents, teachers, and other adults. In addition, these programs are formative in the education and possible career direction of the Vassar students who participate.

    The Poughkeepsie City School District, which consists of approximately 4,300 students, struggles with many of the challenges of limited resources facing urban public schools, and is one of the most stressed school districts in the State of New York. The School District has recently faced the challenges of low academic performance and high school graduation rates. Vassar’s participation in the schools provides for access to some programs that the student would not otherwise receive.

    Our Goals

    • Improve student academic interest and social opportunities in the City of Poughkeepsie;
    • Offer community access to Vassar resources, including cultural resources, academic support, and technology;
    • Model high school graduation and college attainment to increase interest and opportunity in attending college;
    • Increase collaboration among institutions of higher education, local schools, parents, and students;
    • Teach Vassar students to deliver academic support and apply academic work to community settings.
  • The Dan Mindich Teacher Project

    The project is named in memory of an alumnus from the Class of 1987 who dedicated his too-short life to education. It is created through gifts from Propel Capital, family and friends of Dan Mindich, and by matching funds raised by Vassar.

    Project funds will be used to support the operating fund that will allow the Vassar College Urban Education Initiative (VCUEI) to continue for the next decade. They will also be used for the creation of The Dan Mindich ’87 Fund for Teacher Development and Education Outreach. Read about how the Dan Mindich project will benefit community initiatives and students planning to become teachers.

    Make a gift to Vassar’s Urban Education Initiative

    Give Now

  • Programs

    Each semester, VCUEI recruits about more than 120 Vassar students to staff programs and provide mentoring and tutoring. The students are from all spectrums of the campus and commit several afternoons per week to this activity. Reflecting the rich diversity of the Vassar student body, VCUEI is committed to embracing this inclusive climate.

    Elementary and Secondary School

    Vassar student volunteers tutor elementary and secondary school students who are learning English in the Vassar English Language Learners Outreach (VELLOP) program.

    Middle School

    Vassar student volunteers tutor and mentor middle school students through the Vassar After School Tutoring (VAST) program.

    High School

    Area high school students from the Poughkeepsie, Arlington, Hyde Park and other districts in Vassar’s immediate vicinity participate in a four-year enrichment program known as Exploring College, whose objectives are to:

      • Improve academic readiness;
      • Increase the number of students who attend college; and
      • Build relationships between Vassar and school districts in the surrounding area.

    These objectives are achieved through weekly sessions, held on the Vassar campus and at Poughkeepsie High School, that include:

      • Academic and financial aid information;
      • Tutoring, mentorship by Vassar students;
      • College entrance exam preparation; and
      • Exposure to social and cultural events on campus and in the surrounding areas.

    In addition, each July, the Exploring College Summer Intensive program welcomes rising juniors from these high schools to experience living and learning on Vassar’s campus.

  • Who We Are


    The three programs are each run by Program Managers, all of whom are recent Vassar graduates:



    Our offices are located in the Maria Mitchell Old Observatory Building.

    Vassar College is grateful to United Way of the Dutchess-Orange County region and the Dyson Foundation for their support of VCUEI programs.

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