Louis & Hortense Rubin Community Fellowship Awards 2005-06

"Leveraging Institutional Resources for Community Benefit" - $15,000

  • Institution Name: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Cooperating Agency: Various

Using the model of the Rubin Fellowship Program itself, this project looked at ways to increase collaborative ventures throughout Rensselaer County. A study was undertaken to identify best practices for leveraging institutional resources for the greater good of not-for-profits, municipalities, neighborhoods, and the community at large. The study concentrated on, but was not limited to, collaboration in the areas of economic development, information technology, and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Allison Newman worked with the faculties of HVCC, Sage, Emma Willard, and RPI, as well as community groups, to review successful programs and create a blueprint for community groups seeking to tap into the expertise available. Among the issues explored were the factors which contribute to the success of these collaborations, what challenges exist, and what opportunities are untapped.

At the end, a guide was produced which listed resources, contact information, and a business plan for future collaboration. This guide will be made available to individuals and groups seeking to channel and leverage institutional resources and expertise for the benefit of the community.

"Evaluation of Underaging Drinking Program" - $6,000

  • Institution Name: The Sage Colleges
  • Cooperating Agency: Rensselaer County

The Rensselaer County Underage Drinking Coalition represents many groups in Rensselaer County: parents, public elementary and secondary schools, colleges, law enforcement, treatment, prevention, alcohol industry, media, students, faith, and community. Several subcommittees work on a variety of issues relating to underage alcohol use. What the Coalition needed was a process to evaluate the direction and effectiveness of its programs.

Working with a team of graduate students, Dr. Patricia O'Connor initially examined the Coalition's programs and determined the feasibility of conducting an evaluation of the various parts. Once that information was gathered, they developed appropriate evaluation tools for the Coalition members.

"Troy Alley Improvement Project" - $10,500

  • Institution Name: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Dept. of Architecture
  • Cooperating Agency: Osgood Neighborhood Association

Troy's forty-five miles of alleys are one of the city's undervalued and overlooked assets. The Alley Improvement Project focused on these underutilized areas to create examples and resources for homeowners, helping them improve the "Alley Frontage" (reverse of poster) of their property. Off-street parking, trash and recycling containment, low-maintenance landscaping, and security were the primary subjects.

A guidebook was produced which included plans, costs, and sources of help and materials. This guide will be available online or as a CD-Rom. This guide will enable the project to benefit a broader area than its initial scope. A further benefit of the project was an improvement in homeowner attitudes about their alley property, resulting in a cleaner, safer part of the neighborhood.

"Management Plan for the Sand Lake Center for the Arts" - $6,500

  • Institution Name: The Sage Colleges
  • Cooperating Agency: Sand Lake Center for the Arts

The Sand Lake Center for the Arts, Home of the Circle Theatre Players, is a volunteer-managed multidisciplinary arts center. The Center, which opened in September 2003, sought assistance, through the Rubin Fellowship Program, to evaluate and make recommendations for the Center's development.

Professors Bienkowski and Simonds met with representatives of the Center and established a plan of action. Their goals included coordinating computer operations, improving or establishing efficient systems for operations, developing cost-saving strategies, coordinating record keeping, and developing a fiscal plan.

"Community Based Character Education" $12,000

  • Institution Name: The Sage Colleges
  • Cooperating Agency: Troy Housing Authority

This project expanded on a collaborative venture between the Troy Housing Authority (THA) and the Academy for Character Education at the Sage Colleges. The goal of the THA was to foster positive character development of the over two hundred children and families living in public housing.

What made this program unique was that it took place outside of the classroom and during the summer. The program developed by Academy Director Dr. John Walko and Associate Director Mel Horowitz took advantage of the extra free time the children had, as well as their more limited exposure to professional adult guidance. The intent of the project was to create "caring communities" where children learned to understand and internalize traits such as respect for others, responsible behavior, caring relationships, trustworthiness, fairness, courage to do the right thing, and good citizenship. A daily character education program provided a primary vehicle for the implementation of the program's goals. Additionally, Troy Housing adults involved in the lives of these children were provided with resources and training programs to help the children develop and retain these character traits throughout their lives.

While the activities accomplished through this Fellowship were specifically related to the families living in Troy, they can also serve as a model to help other communities determine a course of action for assisting children during the summer and other times when they are not in school.