Since 2011 more than 2,700 Buffalo State students together with 32 faculty and staff provided programming and support to over 11,018 youth and family members on Buffalo’s West Side.
Please see our Annual Report for further information about our CAC institutional and community impact.
The CAC promotes Buffalo State’s capacity to engage students in “transformative learning experiences” outside of the classroom while simultaneously “contributing to the vitality of the community.” The CAC has strengthened the connectivity and responsiveness of campus and community through the creation of mutually reciprocal learning experiences for Buffalo State students and local youth.
By physically placing itself in the community the CAC reduces traditional barriers between campus and community. Due to its presence in within the West Side community, new programs have developed in direct response to community partner needs. The CAC connects university resources to community organizations and also facilitating the collaboration of community partner organizations.
In 2015-2016, the CAC’s fifth academic year of programming, we worked collaboratively to enhance our established programs. We strengthened the curriculum of both citizenship classes and Buffalo Beginnings newcomer children’s program seeking out national and international best practices, applicable research and resources. Additionally, we expanded our assessment model to include exit interviews with Buffalo State student participants and found that student learning was most significant in programs that were lead by a community volunteer, often leaders of one of the West Side’s many ethnic/linguistic communities.
Simultaneously, we expanded our grant writing efforts with a particular focus on identifying funding for additional staff and for our unpaid community volunteers. In the first four years of CAC programming one staff member coordinated programming for 1,139 youth only through the significant integration of community volunteers and Buffalo State volunteers and service-learners. Under the direction of Jericho Road Community Health Center, the CAC citizenship classes now receive funding through a New York State Office for New Americans grant. Additional support came from Buffalo State through the securing of a second state line to support direct programs. Win Min Thant was selected to be the Education Coordinator and currently works to support the learning of both Buffalo State and community students. With this additional staffing we will see expanded opportunities and impacts for our Buffalo State and community students.
Our relationships with our community coordinators significantly deepened this year. We initiated a “Global Potluck” volunteer appreciation event at the end of every semester that created more opportunities for informal conversation and exchanges. CAC continued its sponsorship of our neighborhood festivals Peace, Love and Grant Street and the Taste of Diversity. Additionally, we began a new campus partnership with the Buffalo State South East Asian Week and coordinated a community panel “Refugees in Buffalo: Stories, Struggles and Successes.” Continued efforts to expand opportunities for intercultural dialogue to impact Buffalo State and community student learning is a growing priority as we begin planning for our next year.
Maureen McCarthy, CAC Program Director
Mohamed Aakil is originally from Morocco, and speaks Arabic. He joined the Buffalo Beginnings program at Buffalo Public International School #45 in spring 2016. He loved to come into the program at the end of the school day to get help with his homework and to read story books. He enjoyed learning new words and playing words games. He is very descriptive and loves to share stories about Morocco and the Arabic language with volunteer assistant teachers from Buffalo State.
The Buffalo Public School Drop-in Center is a collaborative refugee/immigrant initiative designed to reach out to our parents within the district. It is an opportunity for parents to meet with The Department of Multilingual Education staff and interpreters to get information, ask questions or seek assistance with communication as it relates to their child’s schooling. The Drop-in Center utilizes space made available to the District through Buffalo State Community Academic Center (CAC). This space is ideal in that it is centrally located within the community and accessible by common bus routes.
Drop-in Center dates occur monthly and hours are accommodating to parents who are working and/or attending ESL classes. Interpreters are made available through Journey’s End Refugee Service’s School Impact Program and are on site to cover the top 5 languages of families settling into the Buffalo area. This initiative has been successful at not only reaching out to various cultural groups, but also reaching out to schools that might not have the translation support. Donated clothing/uniforms, household items, toys/books, and hygiene products are also distributed on a regular basis. This is the fourth year that the Buffalo Public Schools has offered a Drop-in Center for our immigrant/refugee families serving over 500 families. We look forward to our continued partnership in the years to come.
Linda Scinta, Department of Multilingual Education, Buffalo Public Schools
In early December, the Grant Ferry Business association organized its fifth annual holiday celebration, Peace, Love, & Grant Street. The CAC opened its doors to Buffalo State students and community members who were welcome to share snacks and hot cocoa while engaging in service. In total, 30 visitors worked together to create blankets, scarves, and moppet keychains for inclusion in welcome kits that will be given to newcomer youth attached to our programs.
This past year on June 25th the CAC participated in our Grant Street neighborhood’s Taste of Diversity Festival. The annual festival featured live music, dance and food representing the area’s many ethnic and cultural communities and groups. The CAC staff and Dr. Podolesfsky AmeriCorps ABLEs coordinated a Family Fun Zone to provide free educational activities to children participating in the daylong event.
In recent years, Buffalo has become home to a growing number of newcomers from around the world. Due to its affordable housing options and economic opportunities, close to 1,500 refugees settle in the area annually, particularly in Buffalo’s West Side neighborhood. Although Buffalo State College is situated in close proximity to the largest neighborhood of newcomers, many of the college’s students and professors have not had an opportunity to interact with our newest Buffalonians. This event provided a forum in which newcomer members of our community were able to share their experiences with community members, Buffalo State College students and staff. “Refugees in Buffalo: Stories, Struggles, and Successes” took place on March 9, 2016 with Rubens Mukunzi, publisher of the Karibu news, as the moderator the event for an audience of over 40 people. Members of Buffalo’s refugee communities were introduced and then shared their experiences. A panel of three, Govinda Subedi, Romana Mahak Begum, and Doris Noh spoke about their home country and their transition to living in Buffalo. Each panelist highlighted successes they achieved and challenges they encountered abroad and in Buffalo.
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