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VSLC partners with AmeriCorps

blog by The Buffalo State Record  • 

Buffalo State’s community-based work-study program that was set to expire at the end of last semester will continue, along with two new programs, thanks to a partnership with AmeriCorps.

A grant from the United States Department of Education ended in December, leaving a question as to how the program would continue, said Laura Rao, coordinator at the Volunteer and Service Learning Center. Applying to make the program an AmeriCorps program was one way to keep it alive.

“We had been looking at a number of ways to continue the program, because we thought it was really successful and beneficial for students,” she said, adding that the VSLC had applied to AmeriCorps in the fall.

Through the partnership, Buffalo State is able to give AmeriCorps education awards for specific types of service, Rao said.

Three different programs are being instituted through the awards. The work-study program from the last two semesters will continue to be implemented, as well as a community service internship program and an after-school volunteer corps.

“We’re looking at this semester to kind of be the pilot,” she said.

Buffalo State students involved with the programs will work with a variety of community organizations, including People United for Sustainable Housing, several different Buffalo Public Schools and the First United Methodist Church.

One of the programs is being run through the Child and Adolescent Treatment Services 21st Century After-school Program and is based out of School 18, on the West Side. The program serves students from a wide variety of ethnicities, said Sydne McGowan, site coordinator for the service at School 18.

“Our students come from all over the world,” she said. “(They come from) Somalia, Kenya, Liberia, Burma, Thailand, Russia and India.”

While focusing on basic skills, like the English language, math and social studies, the program also ties in sports, dancing and cooking to give students a “positive experience,” McGowan said.

“We hope to improve the student’s social and emotional behaviors,” she said.

Buffalo State students involved in the program will be making an impact on the children’s academic success, as well as their lives in general, McGowan said.

Dual communications and cultural anthropology major Adza Beda started with the initial program last January, and said she was thrilled to see it continue this semester. This is her third semester working with the First United Methodist Church during their game night. Now a Buffalo State AmeriCorps employee, Beda enjoys her position as site supervisor at the church. 

“I help coordinate volunteers, collaborate with other community centers and publicize game night,” she said. “I also interact with the youth, and assist my boss in creating new game night ideas.”

The program has enabled her to see how a group of caring people committed to helping children can really make a difference, she said.

“I see children from many different backgrounds that appreciate small gestures,” Beda said. “For example, many of the children enjoy when I ask them how school was. They cannot wait to give me the detailed accounts of their school day.”

Beda also sees benefits from being involved with the program on her future.

“I can take this experience and work into my career goals as well as everyday life,” she said. “I get so much fulfillment out of helping these wonderful kids. It has inspired me to reach out even further and do volunteer work abroad.”

Michael Canfield
Buffalo State Record Staff Writer

Michael Canfield can be reached by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

TAGGED: americorps, buffalo state college, buffalo state record, michael canfield, public schools, push buffalo, volunteer and service learning center

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