February 2016 Issue
January 26, 2016

NEA grants awarded for student-centered advocacy

Author: By Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Nick Faber, standing, vice president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, talks to Rome TA members about best practices for parent-teacher home visits based on his union’s own experience. Rome teachers are embarking on their own union-led home visit program this spring.
Caption: Nick Faber, standing, vice president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, talks to Rome TA members about best practices for parent-teacher home visits based on his union's own experience. Rome teachers are embarking on their own union-led home visit program this spring. Photo by Michael Okoniewski.

NYSUT and three local unions will use National Education Association grants to improve student success and strengthen ties with parents.

NYSUT's $30,000 grant for 2016 includes working with the Rome Teachers Association, led by Robert Wood, to develop a parent engagement/home visit program and with the Troy Teachers Association, led by Seth Cohen, to develop an afterschool initiative with an emphasis on character building and service learning.

In January, the grant made it possible for Rome TA to bring in Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Vice President Nick Faber, who explained how his union's home visit program works.

NYSUT hopes to expand the Parent/Student Engagement and Empowerment Project on a pilot basis with other local unions that are interested in negotiating programs that will improve students' well-being.

The Greece Teachers Association has been awarded $25,000 to expand its Social Justice Committee's community outreach. As the suburban Rochester district's demographics have changed, Greece TA President Jason Cooney said the local has stepped up its community programs.

The 1,100-member local last year collected thousands of pounds of food and worked with local firefighters and school support staff on a drive to provide winter coats, gloves and hats to needy children. Parents of the entire district saved thousands of dollars on school supplies last fall after teachers worked together to trim supply lists and buy materials in bulk, Cooney noted.

With the NEA grant, the TA is planning to expand community efforts by bringing in visiting dental and health services; improving parent programs; and building a program that would cover the cost of Advanced Placement fees for all students.

"We need to build our infrastructure so we can support the community even more," Cooney said.

The NEA, one of NYSUT's two national affiliates, received nearly two dozen applications from all over the country requesting close to $800,000 for the $250,000 grant program.

Grants can help create new programs or refine existing practices to improve learning conditions. For more information on the grant program and for a toolkit on creative ways affiliates are fighting for students, go to www.nea.org/grants/63562.htm.

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