University of Rochester

University of Rochester Students Connecting to City and Learning

January 20, 2006

University of Rochester students are using "The Power of Dance" to kick off a new outreach initiative to Rochester city schools.

Over the past 18 months, students in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering have been discussing ways to increase the impact of their volunteer efforts in the Rochester City School District. Developing more ongoing, formal relationships with local schools, school children, and parents throughout the year was considered essential to the success of any program.

The result of the group's work and partnerships will be demonstrated this month with "The Power of Dance," a performance by four undergraduate student organizations, and the launch of Project CARE (Coaches Are Role Models for Empowerment), a coaching program aimed at increasing elementary students' literacy, social, and developmental skills.

"These programs are a powerful addition to the longstanding partnership between the University of Rochester and our schools," said Rochester Superintendent of Schools Manuel J. Rivera. "As tutors and role models, undergraduate students can have a significant impact on the learning and growth of our children. UR continues to be a model of that kind of partnership which is vital to the success of public education."

Four University of Rochester student groups will visit the Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School #19, 465 Seward Street, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 9:45 to 11 a.m. to perform for third through sixth graders. "The Power of Dance" will feature Afro-Expressions, the Ballet Performance Group, UR Hip Hop, and Yosakoi. Each group brings a particular style of expression to the event, from modern West-African dance and traditional Japanese fisherman dances to break dancing and ballet. Student performers will show and discuss these differences as well as talk about the power of art in working across boundaries and celebrating diversity as well as in their own education. Participating groups will stay involved with the school and its children throughout the year through a series of demonstrations, workshops, and special invitations to campus events.

To prepare the University of Rochester students for their performance, Natalie Rogers-Crooper of the world-renowned Garth Fagan Dance Company will conduct a workshop on the role of dance in promoting cultural awareness and engaging children. She will also meet with the College students after their performance to discuss their experience and additional ways to engage area youth in meaningful arts and cultural programming.

The outreach effort is sponsored in part by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, a center established in January 2005 as part of the College Dean of Students Office to help connect students to the community and to encourage them to become engaged citizens during their college years and in the future. The center's first event was a conference on "Critical Issues in Leadership: Urban Education," held to mark Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday last year.

"Our students truly benefit and learn from their involvement in the city of Rochester," notes Jody Asbury, College Dean of Students and director of the center. "We also think it is important for them to share their resources and talents in return. For them to learn to assume some responsibility for the communities in which they live is essential," she adds.

Following closely on "The Power of Dance" kick-off event, 30 other Rochester students will participate in the Project CARE pilot program at three city schools. This tutoring and mentoring initiative, developed by the Rochester City School District, EnCompass, a local community service organization, and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, will train and support volunteers to enhance the district's literacy and developmental initiatives while gaining valuable community-based learning experiences.