NeighborWorks Rochester will present the University of Rochester with its Healthy Blocks Partner of the Year Award during its annual meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the group's South Avenue office. This award recognizes Rochester's many programs that create strong ties between undergraduates and community members.
NeighborWorks Rochester is a nonprofit housing agency that assists families and first-time buyers in the city with homeownership and helps to ensure their long-term success as homeowners. As a U.S. Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling agency and a community development financial institution, the group works to strengthen, sustain, and promote city neighborhoods.
The annual meeting will honor individuals, businesses, and organizations that make a tangible contribution to the organization's goals and mission. The Healthy Blocks program focuses on helping targeted neighborhoods reach their potential by encouraging residents to get involved in their community. The Healthy Blocks Partner of the Year Award recognizes the University of Rochester as a partner that has worked to increase community involvement in the Brooks Landing neighborhood.
"At the University of Rochester, we pride ourselves on our support for our neighboring communities and our contributions to their strength and vitality," said University President Joel Seligman. "As a part of this effort, we also encourage students to become engaged and involved citizens of Rochester, and we are honored to be recognized for their efforts."
Several University departments, including the Rochester Center for Community Leadership and the office of Residential Life, have worked with NeighborWorks Rochester on several community events and service activities.
Over the last two years, University undergraduates and community residents have participated in potluck dinners at the newly opened Staybridge Suites and, at the start of the fall semester, Rochester students and community members also had the opportunity to introduce themselves at the first annual Brooks Landing Community Barbecue. More than 300 students, faculty, staff, and community residents mingled while enjoying entertainment provided by community members in the SWAN Band and the After Hours a cappella group, a University of Rochester student performance group.
University of Rochester undergraduates have been active volunteers in neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the Genesee River. This year, freshmen who participated in Wilson Day worked with NeighborWorks Rochester and the South East Area Coalition on a street clean-up project along South Clinton Avenue. The community collaboration continues as this February, the 19th Ward Community Association, NeighborWorks Rochester, and the University will host an ice skating party at Genesee Valley Ice Rink.
In addition to community involvement, the University also works with NeighborWorks Rochester through the University's Home Ownership Incentive Program. Under the program, the University, the city of Rochester and one of two financial institutions—Advantage Federal Credit Union and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust—together contribute up to $9,000 toward the purchase of a primary residence in the neighborhoods closest to the University. In return, employees are required to agree to five-year occupancy and employment commitments and also participate in homeownership education and counseling through NeighborWorks Rochester.