To honor the Colleges’ work on the Geneva 2020 Initiative, the board of Success for Geneva’s Children recently presented HWS with the Community Partner of the Year award. The award was presented by president of Success, the Rev. W. James Gerling L.H.D. ’09 at the annual leadership breakfast on Friday, June 13 in Albright Auditorium.
“Hobart and William Smith Colleges, under the guidance of Mark Gearan, have taken bold action to help us establish clear community goals and make improvements to the success of every child,” said Gerling as he presented the award. “Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been organically connected with Success since its inception. The Colleges sharing of us with Katie Flowers has been in itself an invaluable gift.”
President Mark D. Gearan and Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers were presented with the award. Gearan and Flowers work closely with Success to integrate the Geneva 2020 Initiative into the community and to maintain a common agenda that keeps the interests of the children at the top of its priorities.
“On behalf of the Colleges, it is my pleasure to accept the community partner award,” said Gearan. “Success for Geneva’s Children allows the community to closely monitor the health and wellbeing of our children, and in so doing, adjust services and programs accordingly. I am so proud that our students have been involved in this work and grateful that they have the benefit of mentorship from community members like Reverend Gerling who have dedicated their lives to others.”
“It’s the synergy among community leadership,” said Flowers, “as well as the alignment of a common agenda to advance literacy, career/college readiness, and improve graduation rate, that are indications of a successful collective impact effort.”
Geneva 2020 is an important effort to advance the students of Geneva schools and build a stronger community. The initiative is rooted in the collective impact model aimed at ensuring that high school students have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue a career or further college education. The program focuses on three key issues: graduation rate, career and college readiness, and literacy.
“There are a number of risk factors associated with a student’s decision to graduate from high school,” said Flowers. “And when a student believes that there are people who genuinely care about his or her success, those risk factors are mitigated with tangible results.”
Evidence that Geneva 2020 has not just made strides, but leaps and bounds in improving its three focus areas is given by the results of the Success for Geneva’s Children 2014 Data Report.
Success focuses on the well-being of Geneva’s children through the collection of data that is specific to the local community. Their mission is to mobilize the Geneva community to improve the health and well-being of all of Geneva’s Children. Under the guidance of Professor of Sociology Wes Perkins, HWS students work closely with Success to help collect and analyze the data, in addition to conducting further research to develop ways in which the data can be used to improve the community.
The data book, which is released biennially, was also presented at the breakfast and reveals key improvements to the vital areas of success for children in the community.
According to the data, the graduation rate from Geneva High School has already increased across every category since the 2008-09 school year; students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students have made the most significant gains. Advances in literacy rates are also being made. In 2009 82% of students entering Geneva High School passed the English/Language Arts Regents exam after four years of school, compared to 76% of students who entered in 2007.
“There are points to take great optimism from in the book,” said Gearan. “Steady progress is important.” Eileen Tiberio, commissioner of social services for Ontario County added, “We were pleasantly surprised that we saw some real improvement in the areas that have been problematic for us.”