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College News

St. John Fisher College Receives Grant to Support Community-Based Service-Learning Efforts


St. John Fisher College Receives Grant to Support Community-Based Service-Learning Efforts

St. John Fisher College received a $5,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation in partnership with the Democrat and Chronicle Media Group to support the College's Community-Based Service-Learning initiatives.

The funds will support student-led projects and will cover programmatic costs to implement three after-school programs that will benefit at-risk youth from the Rochester City School District. The programs will take place at The Center for Youth After-School Program at James Monroe High School, the YMCA Greater Rochester Monroe Teen City, and the American Red Cross Next Generation Leaders Program.

Fisher students will provide project development support for the programs through research, mentoring, and teaching. The long-term goal is for the students to develop relationships with area youth, and positively engage them through the programs.

According to the Blueprint for Change: School Age Youth, which was published by the United Way of Rochester in 2010, Rochester has the 11th highest child poverty rate among all large American cities. In addition, 37% of Rochester’s children aged six to 17 live in poverty, compared with 5% of suburban children. In 2010, the graduation rate for Rochester City high schools was 46%. The United Way developed the Blueprint to evaluate current strategies and assess long-term goals.

“I’m excited that we now have an opportunity to pursue projects that were just in the beginning stages at each of these after-school programs,” said Dr. Lynn Donahue, Service-Learning Initiative Program Coordinator, St. John Fisher College. “These funds will allow the College and Fisher students to deepen relationships with programs that we’ve worked with for a couple of semesters, and will give Fisher students the chance to be leaders and apply what they are learning in new ways. The teens will also benefit by working directly with our students and learning how to lead a project.”

James Monroe High School’s program, started in 2010, is an academic-based program that also aims to increase the social and emotional health of its students. The funds from this grant will allow Fisher students to conduct research and provide education and program support for a greenhouse project developed by students in the program. The greenhouse was built two years ago, but has been underutilized. Fisher students hope to re-establish and help maintain the existing greenhouse and vegetable garden, with the long-term goal of helping the high school students harvest and sell the crop at the South Wedge Farmers Market. In addition, they will provide support through tutoring and with activities including games and arts and crafts.

The YMCA’s asset-building approach to their program helps teens develop the skills they need to become successful through programs that build social, emotional, physical, and leadership skills. The funds will allow Fisher students to support a new Youth Entrepreneurship Program that will provide opportunities to educate and model healthy living, collaborate with community resources, and support leadership development. The youth will take a leadership role in a “business” and fundraiser that will provide healthy snacks to YMCA members. They will name the business and manage all functions from the budgeting and marketing, to the packaging and distribution of their product. Fisher students will be providing research to youth to help them get started, and will provide education on healthy eating habits. Additionally, they will help lead gym and craft activities at the Center during after-school hours.

Lastly, the Fisher students will work on a project with the Red Cross’ Next Generation Leaders Program that will help youth establish Red Cross clubs at their schools. The goal is to have the clubs implement service-learning opportunities, including blood drives and fundraisers. The grant will allow Fisher students to support training, where they will lead group meetings with the youth, guiding them with service-learning best practices. They will also provide research and education to support the implementation of the new project.

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