In 2018 Twice As Smart’s founder and Executive Director, Gloria Matlock took a group of elementary school students to the Greenfield Public Library. Gloria was stunned when she asked the children to take turns reading out loud and discovered that nobody was able to read, even at a first grade level. On that day, Gloria conceived of Twice As Smart to address the barriers to learning for underserved children in Franklin County, Mass.
Twice As Smart began with a small group of children, who gathered on Saturday mornings in Gloria’s home for academic skills and enrichment. Gloria began each session by feeding them a hearty breakfast. In 2022, when Twice As Smart outgrew Gloria’s living room, the program increased to twice a week. Today, more than 20 children meet on Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons at Second Congregational Church in Greenfield. Gloria still begins each Saturday session by feeding the children breakfast and ends with a hearty snack provided by the Church which also provides dinner for the children on Tuesdays.
The children who attend Twice As Smart are Black, Indigenous, Latinx and White. Some are local, while others come from Africa and Central/South America. All live in poverty, most in public housing, many in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Their caregivers are parents, grandparents, and sometimes foster parents.
The “one size fits all” approach to learning in the area’s financially strapped public schools does not address the many factors affecting the students’ ability to learn. Twice As Smart helps to address the huge gap in the availability of supplementary education programs for underserved elementary and middle school students in Franklin County.