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Partnership for Better Education awarded $100,000 grant by Verizon to help improve literacy
Partnership for Better Education awarded $100,000 grant by Verizon to help improve literacy February 01, 2007Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Building on the sustained community and corporate support of the Partnership for Better Education, the Verizon Foundation has granted $100,000 to fund the Partnership for Better Education’s “Art, Literacy and Technology” program. The Verizon gift was presented to the Partnership today at Syracuse University’s downtown Warehouse by Monica Azare, Verizon senior vice president for state public policy and government affairs for New York and Connecticut; and Howard Woolley `80, Verizon senior vice president for wireless public policy and government relations.
“Art, Literacy and Technology” is a collaborative photography and writing program that involves the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) and SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, Light Work and Creative Writing Program. As part of this grant, high school students in this program will have access to a new portable digital photography darkroom that includes 60 digital cameras, four laptop computers and four high-end color printers. The program includes Henninger High School students who — in working with SU students and professors — will use the portable new digital darkroom at The Warehouse to photograph scenes from their lives, and then use these images as catalysts for verbal and written expression.
“Art, Literacy and Technology” will also include an honors summer program at The Warehouse for Henninger students; a drop-in literacy and arts center/lab at Henninger; an exhibition at The Warehouse and full-color catalog documenting the poems, prose and photographs completed through the yearlong program; and parents workshops, demonstrations and events at Henninger and The Warehouse in the spring and fall.
The curriculum of the “Art, Literacy and Technology” program is built into the partnership’s arts learning community at Henninger and is aimed at enhancing students’ literacy skills using the personal experiences of photography and journal writing.
“Improving literacy through education is a key goal for Verizon’s philanthropic efforts,” says Azare. “We are committed to investing in the community through working with organizations like the Partnership for Better Education, supporting literacy and education in the areas we serve.”
Adds Woolley: “We are proud to support this initiative by Chancellor Cantor, which builds a bridge through the arts to the Syracuse City School system. Like the University, our company is strengthened when we touch the communities we serve. Verizon is doing that today with this grant.”
“This generous gift from the Verizon Foundation vividly illustrates the great things that can happen when organizations acknowledge and act upon their shared responsibility to make their community a better place to live,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Today, the Partnership for Better Education is the catalyst, bringing together Syracuse University, the Syracuse City School District and Verizon to help high school students find and refine their artistic identities, and impact their literacy skills. This is precisely the kind of impact that the partnership was designed to have: leveraging the resources of academic, community and corporate partners for the greater good.”
Cantor and SCSD Superintendent Daniel Lowengard today accepted the Verizon contribution on behalf of the program and — along with Azare and Woolley — met with partnership students as they began to experiment with the new digital cameras. The Verizon Foundation has been a continuous supporter of the partnership since its founding in August 2005.
“The corporate and community support of the partnership continues to inspire so many new opportunities and collaborations for innovative instruction in our city schools,” says SCSD Superintendent Daniel G. Lowengard. “The district is extremely grateful for the support provided by the Verizon Foundation, which will allow our students the resources and instruction to explore their worlds through photography and to improve essential literacy and communication skills through their writing.”
The partnership was launched as a collaborative alliance between SU and the SCSD to assist area students in pursuing higher education by providing new opportunities for quality instruction in the arts, literacy, science and technology, engineering and math. Using learning communities as the framework for focused interaction between SU and the SCSD, the partnership provides students with improved access to arts and technology resources for study, and has several key elements: collaborative curriculum development by faculty teachers through small learning communities; college mentoring and pipeline programs; early-college high school programs; and an Urban Teaching Program that recruits college students from across a variety of fields to teach in inner city schools. Last year, the partnership was expanded to include four other colleges/universities in the Syracuse region: SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Le Moyne College, Onondaga Community College and SUNY Upstate Medical University.
As part of “Art, Literacy and Technology,” SU graduate students in the Creative Writing Program and upper-level undergraduate students from various academic disciplines participate in a two-semester course, “Teaching Creative Writing and Photography in the Community.” Co-taught by photographer Stephen Mahan, and creative writing professor and poet Michael Burkard, the course first brings SU students into Henninger High School to teach writing, and then to The Warehouse community spaces to teach photography.
“Art, Literacy and Technology” extends from one of the partnership’s first pilot projects, “Literacy Through Photography,” a writing and photography program for all fifth-graders at Syracuse’s Edward Smith Elementary School. This year, the program was expanded to the high school level with “Art, Literacy and Technology,” which is framed around four thematic explorations — self-portrait, family, community and dreams.
At the conclusion of “Art, Literacy and Technology,” SU faculty and SCSD teachers — directed by a faculty expert in evaluation — will perform outcomes assessment of the program. Measures for assessment include literacy skills improvement; increase in school attendance, graduation and retention rates; increase in digital literacy; and increase in parental involvement in classrooms and student projects.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K?12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation’s Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation’s largest employee volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon’s inception in 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit http://www.verizon.com/foundation.
For more information on the Partnership for Better Education, visit: http://partnership.syr.edu.