"At OCM BOCES, we wish more of our component
districts would take advantage of our grant writing services,"
said Educational Programs Coordinator Pamela Dowse.
"It can truly open new doors for teachers, students and the
entire school community."
Did you hear the big news? OCM BOCES played a key role in helping the Solvay Union Free School District secure a five-year, $5.3 million grant to boost student achievement.
Solvay took advantage of the OCM BOCES Grant Writing Services in our Educational Programs division – a service that links districts to a multitude of grant resources and writers.
In this case, OCM BOCES secured the services of Fairport grant writer Chris Semler, who worked closely with the Solvay leadership team to secure a federal 21st Century Learning Centers grant.
“This is a huge boost for us,” Solvay Superintendent Lawrence Wright said. “We will be able to do some really creative and innovative things to connect with families and help students be successful.”
The grant will have a significant impact in a district with 1,500 students and a $32.4 million budget. It will mostly provide before- and after-school programs with the help of several community partners, including OCM BOCES.
Programs include the restoration of a summer “smart” camp that focuses on math and literacy; before- and after-school childcare; after-school academic support for struggling students; a variety of sports, music and other recreational activities; mental-health services for those in need; and continued training for teachers to make better connections between school and home.
“This grant moves us in the direction of being a true community school,” Wright said.
In fact, school-community partnerships represent a cornerstone of the grant, which is aimed at improving academic achievement and also helping students become career- and college-ready. As part of the grant process, the district forged agreements with the following organizations, which will collaborate with the district in planning and delivering programs:
Joanna O. Masingila, dean of the Syracuse University School of Education, said she was “very excited” about the award. SU will collaborate with Solvay teachers on a summer literacy course for middle school students.
- Before and After School Child Care on Location (BASCOL)
- Solvay-Geddes Community Youth Center
- Syracuse University
- Onondaga Community College
- Onondaga County Department of Children and Family Services
- Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY)
- ACMG Federal Credit Union
- Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES)
- Laura Payne-Bourcy Consulting Services
“The School of Education has partnered with the Solvay district over the last four years and collaborated in a number of ways around Solvay student learning experiences, professional development for Solvay teachers, and mentoring SU prospective teachers,” Masingila said.
Onondaga Community College “has made a significant investment in the success of students attending Solvay High School through the OCC Advantage, a college readiness program that begins in 9th grade and ends with the opportunity to earn a full tuition scholarship through the OCC Foundation,” said Amy Kremenek, vice president for enrollment development and communications at OCC. With the grant, OCC will partner with Solvay to implement a summer program.
The grant begins with the upcoming fiscal year on July. As part of its requirements, the district will hire an in-house program director. The New York State Education Department, which administers the funds from the U.S. Education Department, will use an independent evaluator to measure the grant’s outcomes and effectiveness.
Earlier this month, the Syracuse City District also received money through the grant – $1.2 million to provide before- and after-school programs in three elementary schools.
Education leaders said it was tough for rural or suburban districts to secure this grant money over the needs of financially struggling cities, which received about 70% of the funding.
“We were really proud to be one of the districts selected for this grant,” he said, “and we are excited for all the possibilities.”