Harvard’s new Ed Portal serves as a conduit to the community

The science room at the new Harvard Ed Portal, opening this weekend in Allston. (Photo via Harvard Ed Portal)
The science room at the new Harvard Ed Portal, opening this weekend in Allston. (Photo via Harvard Ed Portal)

The perks of having a world class university as your next door neighbor are getting even better for the residents of Allston. On Saturday, Harvard University will celebrate the opening of its new Ed Portal community center, a 12,000-square-foot space that will be a hub for tutoring programs, education efforts, and performances.

The Ed Portal, located at 224 Western Avenue in Allston, is the relaunch of the Harvard Allston Education Portal, which had been operating for the past six years in a 3,500-square-foot space across the street.

The new location will allow for the expansion of programming, said Rob Lue, a Harvard molecular biology professor who serves as the faculty director of the Ed Portal. While the old location focused on linking up Harvard students with tutoring opportunities with local children, he said the new space will provide adult education courses as well, on topics such as job counseling, resume writing, digital literacy, and workforce opportunities. The Portal will also host lectures offered through HarvardX, the massive open online courses (MOOCs) that university professors teach on the Internet.

“We increasingly feel that learning is a lifetime journey,” said Lue. “It’s not something you only do in school, it’s something you need to continue doing.” He explained the goal of the space was to provide educational opportunities for children, parents, and grandparents — what he described as an “arc of learning.”

Programming from the Ed Portal will not only be open to area residents, as the university has plans to livestream talks on the Web to reach an even wider audience. They also anticipate having a full docket of performances in the 120-seat theater, and will showcase several dancers, musicians, and spoken word artists at Saturday’s open house celebration, which is open to the public.

Launching the space was a joint effort between the City of Boston and the Allston neighborhood, said Maile Takahashi, the portal’s community programming director. Both Mayor Marty Walsh and Harvard President Drew Faust are scheduled to attend the opening.

“It’s a one-stop-shop for a family to come and do multiple things to help improve and enrich their lives,” said Takahashi.

Janelle Nanos can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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