Center for Community Engagement

El Arco Iris

El Arco Iris is an after school program committed to fostering and enriching the talents, skills, and attitudes of Holyoke youth so that they can thrive intellectually and better impact their communities. 

The program is comprised of outgoing, enthusiastic, and inspiring individuals who work closely with José Colón, the director of the El Arco Iris Youth and Community Arts Center, to bring the program to life. 

Students from Amherst and Hampshire Colleges volunteer regularly at El Arco Iris, located in Holyoke: an urban, working-class, and predominately Puerto Rican community. These volunteers both mentor and interact with children ranging from 5-17 years of age. Amherst College Youth Advisors (Tutors) often leave the program having built strong relationships with the children and find their experiences both rewarding and fulfilling.

Learn more about El Arco Iris by visiting the El Arco Iris website.

Join El Arco Iris on Facebook.


The mission of El Arco Iris is to utilize the arts and other activities to enhance the development of young people, increase their appreciation of arts and culture and to engage youth in improving their community.

The El Arco Iris program includes:

  • Arts & culture: Studio art, poetry, dance, martial arts, etc
  • Workshops: Amherst and Hampshire College Youth Advisors plan daily (Mon-Fri) workshops for participants with different themes each days (e.g. "Hip-Hop Mondays," "Thursday Art Day")
  • Tutoring: revives the participants’ enthusiasm towards learning and supports their success in school
  • Mentoring
  • Community service learning project: teaches young people about neighborhood planning; encourages teens to design projects to improve the physical environment and improve the quality of their neighborhood. 
  • Youth leadership and empowerment: offers training in team building, communication skills, leadership, planning events, public speaking, teen dating, pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, etc. 

Get Involved With El Arco Iris

Volunteer positions with El Arco Iris are available every semester.  To apply, fill out the tutor application webform.  The application will then be supplemented with a short interview conducted by the El Arco Iris coordinators.

Who Should Apply?

All students are encouraged to apply.  El Arco Iris Youth Advisors are a diverse group of students, but they all share a motivation and commitment to the program's participants. See below for more details on the expectations and desired qualifications of this position.

Youth Advisor (Tutor) Position Description

Youth Advisors travel to Holyoke twice a week to spend approximately two hours at El Arco Iris. They are all each mentors, tutors, and workshop leaders.

Youth Advisors spend between thirty minutes to an hour working with youth as tutors on homework. They nurture intellectual curiosity and motivate tutees to enjoy learning and develop academic interests. During the second hour, Youth Advisors lead or facilitate workshops planned by the Advisor team.

Transportation is provided to and from El Arco Iris.

Youth Advisor Responsibilities

  • Commit to two days each week from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. (Advisors may select days that work best with their schedules)
  • Serve as mentors to program youth
  • Attend bi-weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
  • Cooperatively develop and run a workshop once a week for the participants
  • Assist in planning a campus visit each semester
  • Attend Holyoke Bound - a one day orientation

Desired Qualities in Youth Advisors

  • Enthusiasm
  • Reliability and dependability
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to engage with and build trust with Holyoke youth
  • Perseverance, patience, and passion


102 Keefe Campus Center (map)

Amherst College
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

413.542.5140 phone
413.542.2159 fax

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.