Delivering Research-Based Programming to Herkimer County Students

This past summer, SUNY Polytechnic Institute held a variety of summer programs for Herkimer County students as part of the Liberty Partnership Program. This comes after SUNY Poly was awarded more than $1.4 million from the New York State Department of Education through a Liberty Partnership Program grant in March to serve hundreds of students in the region who currently attend grades 5-12 by engaging them in a mixed-model school- and after school-based effort.  

The initiative seeks to facilitate positive outcomes and decrease the chances of students deciding to drop out of school. To meet this critical goal, the program recruits and selects qualified students to participate; employs family engagement and case management strategies; and engages students in career and educational goal setting, civic-minded projects, and after school and summer activities. 

The five-year grant enables SUNY Poly students to serve as mentors and provide Liberty Partnership Program participants with information about various vocational careers they might choose. Participants include students from Little Falls City School District, Herkimer Central School District, Central Valley Central School District, Dolgeville Central School District, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, and Mt. Markham Central School District.  

In July, students participated in sessions where they learned how to build a self-driving car from Dr. Jiayue (Joyce) Shen and learned tabletop game board design from Mr. Matthew Powers. 

“I am proud that SUNY Poly is spearheading this effort and am thankful to the New York State Department of Education for fostering our ability to provide a continuity of services throughout a student’s secondary school progression to help address factors that might otherwise contribute to their dropping out of school, diminishing positive life and career options, and harming their sense of subjective well-being,” said Dr. Joanne Joseph, SUNY Poly Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences. 

The Liberty Partnerships Program was established in 1988 to address the significantly elevated high school dropout rate among New York’s youth. To address it, the Liberty Partnerships Program seeks to provide a continuity of services throughout a student’s progression through secondary school for students who are identified as at-risk of dropping out. 

This grant complements a recent SUNY Poly award for which Dr. Joseph and Dr. Veronica Tichenor, SUNY Poly Professor of Sociology, received $750,000 from Herkimer County as part of a Herkimer County System of Care Expansion and Sustainability Project grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The effort stems from a larger grant awarded to Herkimer County which aims to enhance school-based mental health services, proactively identify areas of concern, and provide trauma-informed care for children who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This past grant has enabled the evaluation of the overall project by providing quantitative and qualitative data analysis. 

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