Students at Waterfront Elementary School, Futures Academy, East High School, and Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts are served by the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) for the purposes of dropout prevention. Staff have engaged at-risk students in grades 5-12 with research-based interventions, including growth mindset/brainology and student success skills curricula, both designed to bolster students’ soft skills and increase academic achievement. As a result of these multifaceted interventions, overall GPAs and standardized test scores have increased, and students’ levels of risk, in terms of dropout, have also decreased across the board. As a partner with Buffalo Public Schools, LPP has established a pronounced and effective presence in the schools and continues to connect students to resources available at UB.
I currently serve as co-chair of the Say Yes to Education Buffalo Postsecondary Pathways Taskforce. In that capacity, I convene a group of education leaders from both K-12 and higher education to examine the barriers facing students as they transition from high school to college, and to develop potential solutions and interventions. As co-chair, I also serve on the Community Leadership Council for Say Yes to Education Buffalo.
In the spring of 2015, researchers from the Graduate School of Education partnered with Say Yes to Education Buffalo and Buffalo Public Schools to apply for a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant to serve 15 schools in the city of Buffalo. These schools have all been identified as having more than 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch. We were granted the resources (six years, $2.34 million) to begin work with a cohort of seventh grade students and to follow them through high school graduation and entry into college. GEAR UP is run by the U.S. Department of Education and this grant flows through the higher education services corporation in New York State. In middle school we will work with students and parents to choose high schools, think about college and career, and provide mentoring and opportunities to visit college campuses. In high school, we will expand the college success center model to eight high schools and add an academic enrichment component.
In 2012, we launched the college success center at PS 200 Bennett High School to assist counselors as they worked with high school students on the college choice process. The center was designed to achieve three goals: (1) free counselors from the administrative burden of college choice, (2) serve as a conduit between the school and local community partners doing college and career readiness work, and (3) contribute to the creation of a college-going culture in the school. The center at Bennett is now in its fourth year and has served as many as 3,200 students in a given year on a range of activities from career exploration and campus visits to SAT registration, college applications and the financial aid application process. We opened the second center at PS 198 The International Preparatory School in 2014 and we are in our second year of operation at that location. For more information: “College Success Centers open the world of higher education to those who could be left behind“
With this project we partner with Say Yes to Education Buffalo, Buffalo Public Schools and the public charter schools to provide Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion support in 21 high schools across the city of Buffalo. More than 50 interns, graduate assistants, service learning students and volunteers participate in this project annually. During the initial year of the project, FAFSA completion rates increased by 61 percent. Currently, approximately two-thirds of all the FAFSAs completed in Buffalo Public Schools are done with the FAFSA completion project.
Interprofessional Collaboration Award (IPC) is a school-based model that utilizes collaboration among teachers, administrators, counselors and/or other school professionals to improve student outcomes. Examples of student outcomes that may have improved as a result of IPC include: academic achievement; attendance; behavior; health, wellness and/or fitness; safety; social/emotional well being; and English language proficiency. Students who have benefited from IPC may include the school’s entire student body or a subset of students. The award will include a public recognition ceremony at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) spring symposium, where the winning team will share its story with graduate students, faculty and invited guests. The session will be recorded and later used as an exemplar of IPC in courses throughout GSE.
Social Justice Immersion project is part of the course requirements for a graduate course, Cultural Diversity in Higher Education, required for students enrolled in the master’s program in Higher Education Administration and Higher Education Student Affairs Administration. To serve the purpose of better understanding others who are culturally different from oneself, students were asked to immerse themselves in other cultures, increase their social contact with others and possibly experience a new minority status by (a) attending activities or events related to a specific social identity group other than that of their own, or providing some type of service to a social justice related group or organization that addresses issues that do not pertain to their social identity groups; (b) reflecting on their own assumptions, biases and stereotypes regarding the activity or services; and (c) presenting the lessons learned from the experience with the class and in writing.
City Voices, City Visions Film Festival in June 2012 was the 5th annual celebration of student digital video screenings and awards as the community engagement activity of City Voices, City Visions (CVCV) Digital Video (DV) Composing project. CVCV DV Composing project is designed to bring into the classroom the 21st-century digital composing tools to engage students in learning. The film festival showcased talents and achievements of middle and high school students from Western New York schools who created digital videos in classrooms. Support for this project has been provided by the Graduate School of Education.