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 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.
In collaboration with the Eighth District Dental Society, the School of Dental Medicine participated in the first “Dentistry Smiles on Veterans” program. The kick-off event took place Saturday, April 18, 2015, in the UB Squire Hall Clinic, South Campus. On that day, veterans from area Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFWs) and other veterans’ organizations were invited to the dental school for a comprehensive dental examination and treatment plan. To be eligible, they must have separated from the military in or after 2005. The goal was to provide dental services to much deserving veterans who do not qualify for Veterans Affairs (VA) provided dental treatment. This program gave special recognition to veterans and expressed gratitude for their personal sacrifices on behalf of their fellow Americans.
Professor Gargano has taught a Discovery Seminar in the fall of 2012, fall of 2013, and fall of 2014 and will teach again in the fall of 2015. Her seminars explore the role of lawyers as agents of social change in the Civil Rights Movement through primary and secondary materials, including oral arguments, Supreme Court case law, other legal documents and narratives. Her students also study how lawyers today are carrying on the tradition of service to the community, the promotion of civil rights and the eradication of hate crimes. Students earn one, graded credit for successful completion of this seminar.
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.
Students share their time with elderly residents at Elderwood Assisted Living at West Seneca. Student volunteers assist with residents’ activities, such as bingo.
Students spend seven days at the Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua, N.Y.) with off-campus experiential learning trips to the Robert H. Jackson Center (Jamestown, N.Y.) and the New York State Supreme Court, Chautauqua County (Mayville, N.Y.). We explore the role of lawyers as counselors and agents of social change in local, national and global contexts. For the theme of Emerging Citizenship or Immigration, our focus is on the socio-historical context of the pre- and post-WWII national and global citizenship, the Nuremberg Trials and current legal issues. We discuss the social, political, legal and human rights aspects of these issues. Students listen to oral arguments, dissect primary legal documents and read context narratives to prepare them for their experiential learning modules. We explore how different communities and belief systems influence laws and legal institutions. We also take time to recognize the achievements and impact of a local lawyer on the national and global scale and discuss how each person has the ability to advocate for and participate in social change.
In spring 2015 the University at Buffalo Honors College participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic. Students worked with a nonprofit organization called Outreach360, whose vision is to “transform the world so that every child is able to pursue a college degree or to be gainfully employed upon reaching adulthood, enabling them with a life of choice.” The experience is congruent with the Honors College mission of fostering leadership, global perspectives and civic engagement. While in the Dominican Republic, students taught English to disadvantaged children. Participants were given a once-in-a-lifetime chance at leadership development and cultural immersion.