GENEVA, N.Y.-The Hobart and William Smith Colleges' America Reads program was featured as a “Best Practice” at the America's Promise Red Wagon Day held at Club 86 on November 8. America Reads was started during the Clinton administration and provides federal work study funds to pay college students to tutor elementary aged children in reading skills. The program at the Colleges currently employs about 50 tutors in five different schools. This year America Reads at the Colleges was one of four highlighted programs.
At Red Wagon Day Jenna Logue, assistant director of public service at the Colleges and a member of the Class of 2001, gave some basic information about the program and then introduced the principal of the Border City Multi-Age School, Wendy Doyle, who commented on the positive impact the program has had on her students. William Smith sophomore Mary Margaret Herman, coordinator for America Reads at Border City, talked about how meaningful working with the children at the school was to her and the other tutors. Herman then introduced L.C. Collins, one of the children participating in the program, who wrote her own speech about how much the program has helped her in learning how to read. Also attending the event was David Baumgartner, associate dean of students, and W. Averell H. Bauder, director of public service and a member of the Class of 1981, who accepted a Charter Commitment Maker certificate on behalf of the Colleges.
The day featured remarks from former Senator Harris Wofford who is on the America's Promise Board, and Holocaust survivor Zev Kedem who spoke on “Schindler's List: A Survivor Celebrates Life.” The day also highlighted “best practices” in working with and for youth in the Finger Lakes as well as time for youth to have a discussion with organization representatives about who they saw as heroes and community service work.
The night before Red Wagon Day, Colleges President Mark Gearan hosted a dinner for Wofford and Kedem attended by community members and representatives from Finger Lakes Health as well as students, faculty, and staff. Following the dinner Gearan and Wofford participated in a well-attended “Fireside Chat” on service at Community Service House on campus.
Red Wagon Day brings students and representatives from commitment-maker organizations and school districts together to recognize their contributions and highlight local programs involving youth. The youth also meet to network and discuss ways to implement the Five Promises of America's Promise. These promises are an ongoing relationship with a caring adult; safe places and structured activities during non-school hours; a healthy start; marketable skills through effective education; and an opportunity to give back through community service.
America's Promise is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the nation's more than 15 million at-risk youth. Founded in Philadelphia, Pa., at the President's Summit for America's Future, America's Promise aims to provide these young people with access to the fundamental resources needed in order for them to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives. Finger Lakes Health was designated by America's Promise as one of the first four “Health System of Promise” in the nation and as such sponsors Promise activities in the area. Hobart and William Smith are Charter Commitment Makers in the local organization.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are coordinate, private, liberal arts institutions, located in Geneva, N.Y. in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. The Colleges, which have a combined enrollment of 1,800, offer a remarkably broad array of majors and minors, with a cross-disciplinary flavor intended to better inform both professional and intellectual pursuits. The Colleges are noted also for an ambitious emphasis on international study, and for their programs in community service. Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women share faculty, facilities, and curriculum, but maintain separate dean's offices, athletics programs, student governments, and traditions.