Helping children, youth and families

PROGRAMS Help Make a Difference

Early Education & Care

Ages ranging from 1 month – 5 years old. Full-day, full-year active learning programs for working families and families referred by the Department of Children and Families.

School Age Programs

Through school-community partnerships, we create afterschool opportunities for children and youth to achieve academically, socially, emotionally, vocationally, civically, and physically.


Young Adult Support Programs

In today’s global economy, high-quality education is no longer just a path to individual opportunity, but also the way to community safety, economic prosperity, and social well-being. Thus, we have a stake in helping all students develop into responsible, educated, productive, and caring adults.

Youth & Family Services

In our work with youth, our job is to awaken a sense of possibility and opportunity and help them take action steps toward achieving the new personal, educational, and vocational goals they have set for themselves.

Mental Health

The purpose of the NorthStar Mental Health Clinic is to improve the lives of people with mental health challenges and the lives of their families and friends.

Community Health

For the past four years, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have partnered with NorthStar on a research project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Cumulative Risk Assessment (CRA) initiative that explores how a combination of factors may be increasing disease rates among city residents.


Learn how each program builds family and community.















Early Education and Care

To achieve equity in education, from kindergarten through college, we must first understand that the majority of a child’s cognitive brain development occurs before the age of 5. Therefore, while we address and provide mental health, social and academic support for those engaged in our services and programs, we recognize that beyond the age of 5, much of our efforts and interventions are necessary due to early childhood developmental needs not being met.

While we at NorthStar continue working to expand the horizons of opportunity for all the people we serve, we recognize that when we are intentional and strategic in investing our efforts in providing excellent, accessible and affordable early childhood education, we are simultaneously making ripples of long-term change with each student we touch and teach.

Center-based Programs

We provide high-quality, enriched, nurturing child development services for children aged 1 month up to kindergarten. Our two centers offer safe, planned learning environments and curricula that promote children’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, and physical development. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, we are one of 21 Recommended High Performing School Readiness Organizations in Massachusetts (Root Cause/Social Impact Research). We are intentional in our approach to view and treat parents as partners to support their children’s success.

Foster Grandparent Program

NorthStar has been a volunteer site of Coastline Elderly Services Foster Grandparent Program since 1983. The goals of a Foster Grandparent Volunteer is to enhance and cultivate a positive learning environment, focusing on literacy and academics, communication, and social skills. This program provides a way for our elderly to stay active and meaningfully engaged with children in their communities while simultaneously enriching early education learning experiences.

Foster Grandparents volunteer a minimum of 15 hours each week and receive a small tax-free stipend for their time and commitment.

Are based on research findings about how children learn

Follow state early education curriculum and assessment standards

Are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

Are culturally relevant and responsive

Believe families are a source of strength and knowledge

School Age Programs

Through school-community partnerships, we create afterschool opportunities for children and youth to achieve academically, socially, emotionally, vocationally, civically, and physically. Without a culture of partnerships, children and youth would not have these rich opportunities available for learning and development.

Benefits of After School Programs

With more parents working – and working longer hours – many young people regularly spend out-of-school time without supervision. With nothing positive to do and nowhere to go, they run the risk of engaging in destructive and unsafe behaviors, or doing other things that negatively impact their development and their futures.

Our after school programs provide structured, supervised programming outside of school hours for children and youth. Although these programs can benefit all children and youth, there are additional benefits of after school programs for working families as they provide a safe haven after school while parents work. We believe that after school activities can change a child’s life for the better.

Want to refer someone to a program?


English Language Learning (ELL)

Creating a safe place where English Language Learners participating in the New Bedford High School summer program have the opportunity to explore their personal interests, goals, and abilities; while the wraparound case manager simultaneously addresses the social emotional barriers that the students enrolled in the program are facing. During the program, students will have the opportunity to complete a variety of college tours as one step toward increasing college access and success.

English Language Learning (ELL) Afterschool Student/Parent Outreach Program

Offered at New Bedford High School, ELL students and their parents or guardians will receive wraparound case management services through this afterschool program. Students will have the information, supports, and services necessary to help them thrive in school, at home, and in the community. Due to the close association of parental involvement with student academic achievement, informing their parents about school values and expectation while supporting parental empowerment to help them become advocates for their children.


Our licensed program operates after school when school is in session and all day during school vacations/professional development days and the summer months. Keeping children ages 5-12 safe and supervised after school and during school vacations, professional development days and summer months.

SCHOONER provides:

  • Homework Assistance
  • Academic Enrichment Activities and Field Trips
  • Computer Learning
  • Outdoor Physical Activities
  • Art Programs
  • Transportation to and from the Program
  • Community Service and more

Breakfast and lunch are provided on full-days and nutritious snacks after school.

Afterschool & Summer Learning Opportunities

Through school-community partnerships, we create afterschool opportunities for children and youth to achieve academically, socially, emotionally, vocationally, civically, and physically. Without a culture of partnerships, children and youth would not have these rich opportunities available for learning and development.

Boys to Men Mentoring

A collaboration between NorthStar and Randolph Public Schools that helps boost the academic achievement of the low-performing group of elementary students enrolled in Randolph Public Schools. Mentors are recruited from Randolph High School, of who are eager to improve the life chances of at-risk boys. NorthStar provides training, ongoing support, and evaluation. The school-based mentoring program targets low-performing male students in the elementary schools through a group mentoring model, which helps to build upon both positive youth-adult and peer-peer relationships.

Leading Senoritas

Offered at Roosevelt Middle School, Leading Senoritas teaches young at-risk ladies skills to know and appreciate who they are, connect with and achieve in school, recognize and forge healthy relationships, and become leaders in school and community change. Exploring what it means to be a woman and options on how to show up in the world, Leading Senoritas helps all participants to reach their true potential despite any negative influences they may have had in the past. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Youth Violence Prevention Through Positive Youth Development program, partially funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Grant Program.

Tying on Success (TOS)

For the Roosevelt Middle School boys in TOS, wearing a necktie is a rite of passage into responsible manhood and an example of the ways in which they can express their identity. Focusing on improving participants’ self-esteem, social skills, and grades, this mentoring program helps struggling, violence-prone boys become part of the solution to the concentrated violence in their lives. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Youth Violence Prevention Through Positive Youth Development program.

Young Adult Support Programs


The HEAL Center is…

The HEAL Center is an initiative of NorthStar Learning Centers that is supported by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Gun Violence Prevention Intervention, Treatment and Recovery Services. The HEAL Center’s mission is to work with youth ages 17-24 who have had first-hand experience and exposure to gun violence, in promotion of their healing, overall health, and well-being.

We provide intensive, culturally responsive, trauma-informed prevention and intervention services including, wraparound care and mental/behavioral health support. The HEAL Center is strategically neighborhood-based and functions as a community mobilization and healing space. Our Sankofa Day Program is an engaging curriculum that aims to empower young adults to begin healing and recovering from community violence. The HEAL Center intends to guide New Bedford youth in exercising their own voice and power by embracing their strengths and leadership abilities. With a transformative approach, our participants’ challenges and struggles serve as steppingstones to creating a more resilient, caring, and just city.


Through a holistic approach to wellbeing that incorporates the mind, body and spirit


Through a culturally based, trauma-informed, and youth-centered lens that is participatory and community-driven


Through a community-led process that addresses existing social inequalities preventing youth from overcoming poverty and violence


Through transformative approaches that place young people as agents of social change in movements that dismantle injustice

Youth & Family Services

Many New Bedford area youth, especially those living in poverty, face an uphill struggle toward becoming healthy, educated, responsible, self-sustaining adults. In our work with youth, our job is to awaken a sense of possibility and opportunity and help them take action steps toward achieving the new personal, educational, and vocational goals they have set for themselves.

Our programs are grounded in positive youth development theory of change and social theory of youth empowerment. We draw from multiple evidence-supported youth-serving models, including standards for effective afterschool and youth mentoring programs.

We meet youth and families “where they’re at.” Where youth violence and other high-risk behaviors are often linked with lack of hope for a better life, we provide activities that widen experience and cultivate a sense of possibility and opportunity. We recognize that facilitating a youth’s growth often entails overcoming their mistrust from adverse contact with systems. Further, some youth require more intensive, long-term support as they overcome mental health problems, past trauma, and educational and life skill deficits. Built into our programs are different levels and kinds of support, including “24/7” availability; after-hours intercession in a family conflict has often staved off out-of-home placements that would remove youth from their biological, adoptive, or foster homes, schools, and community. A key principle of wraparound is that it is unconditional; if interventions are not achieving the desired outcomes, we regroup with the youth and family to try another strategy.

Family Actualization, Support, and Empowerment (FASE)
The FASE program is youth-centered, family-focused, and strength-based – we look at the whole youth, in the context of the family and the family within the framework of the community assets. FASE works to enhance the existing strengths of the family and help them find resources by encouraging connections to the community through spirituality, civic interest, activism, continued education and others. We hope that families follow our lead and instruction for self-advocacy, resource identification and proactive decision making.

Based on the 10 principles of the wraparound approach, FASE provides mentoring, advocacy, and individualized support that meet youth and families “where they are at” to:

  • Keep families together, where youth in intact families are at risk of out-of-home placement;
  • Stabilize foster placements of youth removed from their home due to abuse, neglect, or dangerous conditions and, where possible, return them to their family;
  • Connect families with community resources;
    Increase youth involvement and success in school.
Supervised Family Visitation
Provides a safe, neutral, supervised, child-oriented setting where parents with children in foster care or who are involved in an active visitation dispute can visit with and strengthen their relationships with their children. Professional staff promote children’s sense of safety, security, and hope and, at the same time, acknowledge and affirm parents’ desires to strengthen ties with their children.

Committed to high quality and innovation, NorthStar is a member of the international Supervised Visitation Network (SVN), which has developed Standards of Practice and Best Practice Guidelines that we subscribe to.

Kinship Care/Reunification Support Program
NorthStar Learning Centers works closely with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to identify, engage, and support kinship caregivers and facilitate, where appropriate, early reunification that leads to long-term stability.

Our program offers three components based on family needs and service goals:

  • Rapid Placement of Children with Kin;
    Intensive Kinship Caregiver/Family Support, including helping kinship caregivers meet basic needs;

  • Rapid Reunification or permanency placement support, providing parenting education and support to the “forever home” identified for the child, including helping birth parents prepare for their child’s return home;
  • Parent Support, assisting in strengthening the parent-child relationship by improving knowledge of child development and parenting skills, reducing family stress, and meeting needs of parents.

This program is grounded in wraparound, an approach that involves families in developing individualized service plans that engage “natural” supports within the community. Member of the National Wraparound Initiative since 2011.

Mental Health

NorthStar Learning Centers Mental Health Clinic started as a thought, and then emerged into a set of principles that is now an established culmination of an exemplary history of professional, and dedicated direct services to the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts for over 40 years. NorthStar Mental Health Clinic is the next progression of services offered by NorthStar Learning Centers.

NorthStar Learning Centers Mental Health Outreach Program offers an array of comprehensive and healing-centric mental and behavioral health services. 

Our clinicians are state-licensed and are trained in CBT, DBT, EMDR, and others.  We seek to reduce stigma around receiving mental health care by developing a working partnership with our participants that highlights all of the preexisting knowledge and skills they bring to the table.

The Mental Health Outreach Program offers:

  • Telehealth Visits
  • In-office Visits
  • In-home Visits
  • Individual, couples, and family therapy
  • Short term treatment
  • Long term treatment

 We accept most MassHealth and Blue Cross Blue Shield products as a form of payment for the services listed above.

Reducing the stigma around mental health care means meeting participants where they are at – mentally and physically.

 Through partnership and collaboration with New Bedford Public Schools and Nativity Preparatory School, our clinicians provide individual and group therapy services to students in their school environment. 

 This integration of service delivery allows for students to access high-quality mental health services whilst decreasing the familial stress of accessing these services after school hours.  

 Furthermore, our school-based mental health services allow for close clinical observation and intervention of students’ challenging behaviors and in turn increases their social interaction skills whilst strengthening resilience.

 Student behavior doesn’t exist in a silo.  We use a wraparound philosophy by assisting school staff and administrators in accruing effective strategies to manage challenging behaviors and develop a school culture of patience and belonging.  

 We simultaneously work with families and caregivers to strengthen relationships, improve behavioral consistency, and develop a better understanding of your child.

The Mental Health Outreach Program’s Diversion and Assistance Program (DAP) was developed in 2018 as a response to people with mental health challenges and substance use disorders being overrepresented in the criminal justice system. 

 Through partnership and collaboration with the New Bedford Police Department and The Island Foundation, our clinicians are part of a pre-arrest police-based jail diversion program that utilizes the co-response model to provide immediate clinical intervention and referral to appropriate services on the scene of a police encounter. We strive to utilize nonpunitive measures to rectify police encounters whilst regarding our participants as the experts of their own lives.  

 Our clinicians work closely with officers to assist in their further development of nonviolent intervention skills in an effort to strengthen community relationships. We believe that when youth are diverted from the criminal justice system and placed in community-based service delivery models everyone wins.

Community Health 

We believe strength is found in the collective not the individual, therefore here at NorthStar we strive to cultivate, build and maintain cross sector partnerships as a means to increase our participant’s social capital and exposure to opportunities. Over the years our partnerships with our community at large has offered NorthStar the unique opportunity to work with and serve as a source for professional development.

NorthStar’s Mental Health Outreach Program provides training and consultation services for school districts, charter schools, and community agencies. Mindfulness, trauma-informed practice, cultural responsiveness and behavioral interventions are among the training and consultation services that NorthStar Mental Health Outreach Program and its parent organization have been involved in providing. The NorthStar Mental Health Outreach Program is expecting to expand our offering of training opportunities that are approved by accredited commissions for CEUs to qualified professional helpers. The Mental Health Outreach Program is expected to be a leading agency to provide unique and innovative methodology to resolving and addressing mental health challenges in schools and community agencies.

Other partner organizations include:

Boston University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Including “environmental justice” among the ongoing issues we address, NorthStar partnered on a research study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Cumulative Risk Assessment (CRA) initiative that explores how a combination of factors may be increasing disease rates among city residents. Considering the harmful effects of toxic pollution, the researchers at Boston University School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and NorthStar engaged in a EPA-funded research study, Effects-Based Cumulative Risk Assessment in a Low-Income Urban Community near a Superfund Site, that focused on the influence of combined exposure to multiple chemical and non-chemical stressors on blood pressure and ADHD-like behavior in New Bedford. An article on our researcher-community partner collaboration recently appeared in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2017, 14, 30; doi:10.3390/ijerph14070730).

Prior to our participation in this research project, NorthStar’s programmatic focus was on helping children, youth, and families overcome social and economic inequities. Four years of collaboration in the EPA research project certainly expanded our field of vision; it has also increased our awareness of multi-causality, complexities, challenges, and possibilities associated with going about planning and trying to mobilize a more integrated, comprehensive response that considers the pileup of environmental health threats and socioeconomic risks burdening New Bedford residents, particularly low-income residents and people of color, whose neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected by these serious public health problems.

NorthStar is participating in a new research project that can help us understand how people in New Bedford may be exposed to chemicals from the environment. The study is being conducted by researchers from Boston University and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance
The Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance (Youth Alliance) supports a diverse community in which all children have equal access to quality services. Toward that end, we are committed to establishing a seamless system of quality before school, after school, out of school and summer programming for children and families through collaborations that build healthy organizations in the service of children and families.

NorthStar acts as a fiscal agent for the United Way of Greater New Bedford Innovation Grant and Sub Committee member for CitySpan Data System as well as engagement as an active member of the Youth Alliance.

Birth to Third Partnership
A collaboration of community partners with a mission of improving outcomes for children from birth to grade 3. NorthStar is an active stakeholder in this group and advocate for accessible and affordable quality early childhood education.
New Bedford Public Schools Wraparound Partnership Coalition
This initiative was comprised of organizations who serve children, youth and families with wraparound services throughout the city of New Bedford with an aim to clearly define “wraparound” as an approach and work from the same definition as a collaborative community. NorthStar is an active stakeholder, facilitator and site host for this initiative.
New Bedford Early Education and Care Partnership
Northstar is an active advocate, facilitator and convener for advancing kindergarten readiness working in partnership with New Bedford Public Schools to convene early education and care providers across the district to align efforts for highest possible impact.
New Bedford Farmers Markets
Support by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program NorthStar promoted and distributed “Green Bucks” to enable low-income families to access healthy, locally grown food.
State Street Community Garden
We have finished our third growing season in the State Street Community Garden—across the street from our main office. The garden not only produces vegetables harvested by neighbors, but also has been, as passersby have noted, a place of beauty in a neighborhood without a lot of green space. A next-door neighbor continues to be involved in watering, weeding, and harvesting vegetables from the garden. She said each morning she enjoys the peace that the garden affords.

NorthStar Learning Centers

53 Linden Street
New Bedford, MA 02740

267 Samuel Barnet Blvd.
New Bedford, MA 02745

80 Rivet Street
New Bedford, MA 02746

725 Shawmut Ave.
New Bedford, MA 02746