The Academic Summer Camp on Neighborhood Development is designed to improve the skills of middle school students in reading, writing, research and computer use. By working on a neighborhood development project on the East Side, the students also develop skills in critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving. The camp is hosted annually by the Center for Urban Studies on the South Campus in partnership with the Erie County Youth Bureau, UB’s Liberty Partnerships Program, UB’s Community Relations and Say Yes to Education Buffalo. The summer program has an open enrollment policy for students from across the city, although children from East Side zip codes, highest in need, are its prime target population. The Academic Summer Camp on Neighborhood Development is a problem-based and project-centered learning program. It seeks to reinforce skills in reading, writing, research, computer use, critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving by having students work on real-world projects during an intensive six-week summer program. This program is based on the nationally recognized “Mini-Education Pipeline” program developed by the Center for Urban Studies and has four interrelated goals: (1) stop the summer loss of learning, (2) increase student motivation, (3) build interactive relationships with the students’ parents and (4) instill college-going culture in students and their parents/caregivers.
The Community as Classroom (CAC) is a project-based program at PS 37 Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School (Futures Academy) in the Fruit Belt neighborhood of Buffalo that involves the children in solving real-world problems that are related to neighborhood development and creative place-making. The CAC attempts to motivate 5th-8th grade students in an underperforming school by showing them the connection between lessons learned in the classroom and their abilities to build better neighborhoods and cities. This is done through action-based projects that grapple with real issues facing the Fruit Belt, the East Side and neighborhoods across the Buffalo and Greater Niagara Region. The goal is to increase student learning by showing them the utilitarian value of education, and demonstrating how knowing and learning can be used to improve the quality of their lives. The program is not only unique in how it approaches teaching and learning — utilizing UB undergraduate and graduate students from various departments across campus as instructors — but also the way in which it uses children as catalytic agents with the capacity to change the neighborhoods in which they are embedded. The CAC is a place-conscious approach to education that creates highly interactive linkages and connections between home and family, school, and neighborhood. It also teaches inner city elementary students about neighborhood development and urban planning and how they can help redevelop the communities in which they live and go to school if they are willing to put forth the effort. It produces not only good students but also civically engaged residents dedicated to building a better city.
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.
The Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention provides resources for parents, educators, students and researchers through presentations in the school and community, its annual conference and colloquium series, and resources on the website.
The Annual BAND Against Bullying Program is a performing arts competition where students from area high schools combine multiple forms of art to create the most dynamic illustration of dignity awareness to prevent bullying. Each final act performs at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts.
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.