ALBANY, NY Sept. 22, 2016 — The Rome Teachers Association has been awarded a $270,000 grant to help fund the district’s community schools initiative, which aims to help high-needs students succeed by offering comprehensive services and a more diverse range of academic options and programs.
The grant, awarded by the American Federation of Teachers as part of the union’s Innovation Fund, will help Rome establish a position to coordinate the community schools effort and build upon its STEAM program — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — for elementary students.
“NYSUT has been a strong advocate of the community schools movement and we are pleased that one of our locals — the Rome Teachers Association — can serve as a model for this unique approach to education,” said New York State United Teachers President Karen E. Magee.
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said community schools are a critical component in the effort to transform schools and make them the hub for strengthening communities.
“By meeting not only the academic needs of students, but also their health, nutrition and other social-service needs, we are ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed,” Fortino said. “NYSUT will continue our work to secure the funding necessary at the state level to make the establishment of community schools a reality across New York.”
The grant awarded to the Rome TA will be dispersed in $135,000 allotments in each of the next two years. The initiative, which will lend itself to project-based learning, also will involve community partners.
“NYSUT worked closely with our local over the last 21 months, helping us to become educated in community schools. Our dedication was noticed by AFT and its belief in our efforts is shown by receiving this generous grant,” said Joe Eurto, a Rome Teachers Association member and an eighth-grade teacher. “I couldn't be more thrilled for the students and families in Rome. We are eager to launch the community schools initiative to support students, families, teachers, principals and all school support staff.”
The Rome program was one of three initiatives nationwide to receive an AFT Innovation Fund grant, with the two others awarded to fund programs in Texas and California.
“These grants are intended for schools to create and integrate programs and services that promote wellness, rich and broad course offerings, academic interventions, and recognized programs to create positive learning environments,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The AFT is dedicated to helping incubate these solution-driven efforts.”
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.