With a fourth year of funding, the Charlestown office of the national accounting firm RSM has now given IHP researchers almost $900,000 to improve lives of children at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School and John F. Kennedy Center in Charlestown.

The partnership between the MGH Institute and the local office of national accounting firm RSM to assist the Charlestown community continues to grow. 

Thanks to three recent grants to Institute researchers, RSM will have given almost $900,000 to assist children in the neighborhood where both organizations are located. Add additional monies that will be awarded over the next two years, and that figure surpasses the $1 million mark. 

“Our partnership with RSM is an example of what can be done when organizations come together on a common goal,” said Institute President Paula Milone-Nuzzo. “We value the funding RSM is providing to assist our researchers to test and implement clinical interventions that can improve the lives of children going to school in Charlestown.” 

Since the funding began in 2019, two grants to different MGH Institute researchers have been used at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School. A third grant is being used at the John F. Kennedy Center to work with children, most of whom live in two housing developments located on nearby Medford Street. 

“I feel like it has been the perfect melting pot of putting great ideas into motion,” said Madison McCabe, president of the RSM Foundation, which awarded the grants. “It’s really exciting to be able to provide funding and help bring innovations to life.” 

Through the foundation’s Birdies for Love campaign, the Charlestown RSM office has awarded more than $2 million to the IHP and several Charlestown organizations.  

The partnership between the Institute and RSM was recognized in 2021 when they were one of four recipients of the Boston Business Journal’s Corporate Citizenship Partners of the Year award. 

The 2023 grants are: 

  • $192,000 for SPLASH, or the Summer Program in Literacy and Scholarship, at Harvard-Kent. It was awarded to the Brain, Education & Mind (BEAM) Lab, led by Dr. Joanna Christodoulou, who will use the funds to expand the reach and impact of the lab’s five-year-old summer literacy programming. The initiative counters the “summer slide,” when students often have less access to literacy experiences, and has delivered over 75 hours of teaching to each of the more than 250 children who have enrolled. Funds over the next three years, which will total $300,000 by 2025, also will help reduce waitlists for at-risk readers by adding students from other Charlestown schools plus support research to document and quantify the program on student outcomes. This is the first year RSM has funded the project. 
  • $90,000 for the third year of the Starting Off Strong initiative at the Kennedy Center, led by assistant professor of occupational therapy Dr. Cathy Leslie, to support multiple activities with IHP faculty and graduate students. These include providing occupational and speech therapy services, increasing developmental screening, supplying professional development for Kennedy Center teachers, supporting teacher engagement with families in developmental monitoring, and increasing the use of data-informed decision making. The goal is to provide at-risk children who have previously identified developmental delays with supplemental services and referrals to special education and early intervention that will support kindergarten readiness and decrease educational and health inequities related to access and use of needed rehabilitation services. Overall, RSM has given $360,000 to the initiative. 
  • $35,000 to the Speech and Language Literacy (SAiL) Lab for the fourth year of a grant that leverages the MGH Institute’s literacy expertise and research and helps provide children at Harvard-Kent with the support and resources to succeed in school and in life. Director Dr. Tiffany Hogan, along with several Institute speech-language pathology graduate students, will complete the last year of the initiative in the public school, which has one of the highest rates of economically disadvantaged students and one of the highest rates of English learners in Boston. RSM has given the project $340,000 since 2019. Using findings from the first year of the initiative, Hogan secured a $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue work in improving literacy outcomes in Charlestown as well as other school districts across the country.