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October 4, 2010

SUNY Empire State College and Year Up New York Partner to Close “Opportunity Divide” for Urban Young Adults

Cynthia Ward, (dean of the Metropolitan Center, SUNY Empire State College), Alan Davis (president, SUNY Empire State College), Lisette Nieves (executive director, Year Up), William Lehman (national site director, Year Up)

Photo, left to right: Cynthia Ward, (SUNY Empire State College), Alan Davis (SUNY Empire State College), Lisette Nieves (Year Up), William Lehman (Year Up)

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 4, 2010) SUNY Empire State College and Year Up New York have partnered in an innovative program that paves the way for Year Up New York students to enter the college with advanced standing. The students will be enrolled in individualized degree programs they custom design with personal guidance from a faculty mentor.

A ceremony to sign and celebrate the partnership agreement was held Thursday, Sept. 30 in Year Up New York’s offices in New York City. SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis and Founding Executive Director of Year Up New York Lisette Nieves were present for the event.

“We are privileged to work with Year Up New York, an organization with national stature and local success,” Davis said. “The college’s commitment to educate underserved populations, particularly adults who are balancing work and family responsibilities with study, is well aligned with Year Up New York’s support for individuals who are dedicated to overcoming obstacles to achievement. We are pleased to join in the effort to advance these individuals through enrichment and education and to remove barriers to their study. Together with Year Up New York, the college will be proactive in its effort to plug some of the leaks in the education pipeline.”

Year Up is a nonprofit organization established in 2000 with a mission to close the “opportunity divide” by preparing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential in professional careers and higher education. On their paths to viable economic self-sufficiency, Year Up participants -- who are recruited from high schools and community-based organizations -- develop marketable job skills in internships at major companies, receive stipends, are supported and guided by educators, and earn college credit through Pace University through portfolio-based prior learning assessment.

To facilitate students’ transition into an associate or bachelor’s degree program, SUNY Empire State College accepts Pace prior-learning assessment credits for transfer. Additionally, on request, Empire State College assesses incoming students’ prior college-level learning through work and life experience and grants credit toward the degree for it, when appropriate.

“Year Up New York is proud to partner with SUNY Empire State College to expand educational options and to help close the opportunity divide for the young adults in our city,” said Nieves, who is also a mayoral appointee to the 14-member Panel for Educational Policy of the NYC Department of Education. “‘Strive to Learn’ is one of Year Up's six core values, so a formal relationship with the college makes great sense for both organizations. Preparing young adults for the 21st-century workplace means ever-closer integration of experiential learning through internships with classroom preparation and analysis. Year Up New York and Empire State College share the mission of making education accessible and directly relevant to adults from all social and economic circumstances. We also share an unswerving belief in the remarkable talents and aspirations of the young adults in New York's cities.”

“Pace University has been the Year Up academic partner since Year Up’s inception in New York City, approximately five years ago. Our goal has always been to provide educational opportunities to Year UP graduates,” said Dr. David Sachs, associate dean and professor, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. “Empire State College has a fine reputation, and we look forward to working closely with them in the years to come. This should provide more Year Up students with more educational opportunities, which has always been our goal.”

Dean of the Empire State College’s New York City Metropolitan Center Cynthia L. Ward added: “We are honored to provide a pathway to higher education for the young adults served by Year Up New York. SUNY Empire State College provides an affordable and flexible opportunity for these motivated young adults to combine success at work with college study. Especially important is the college's ability to recognize learning achieved in Year Up New York's outstanding academic program and internship experiences so that each supports the other.”

Also attending for Year Up were Sid Ross, director of academics; William Lehman, national site director, Daniel Rabuzzi, senior director of operations and strategic planning; other organization officials; and several students. SUNY Empire State College was additionally represented by Christopher Rolley, recruitment and outreach specialist, Metro Center.

It is expected that 10 Year Up New York students will be served by SUNY Empire State College in the coming year.

About Year Up

Year Up's mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing low-income young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Year Up achieves this mission through a high support, high expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, internships, college credit, a behavior management system and several levels of support to place these young adults on a viable path to economic self-sufficiency. Year Up currently serves more than 1,000 students a year at sites in Atlanta, Baltimore (College Based Pilot Program), Boston, Chicago, New York, Providence, San Francisco Bay Area, and the National Capital Region, and will be opening in Puget Sound in the year ahead. To date, 84 percent of graduates have been placed into positions within four months of graduation earning an average salary of $30,000 per year or have enrolled in full-time higher education. To learn more, visit www.yearup.org.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York by removing barriers to their education. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies, and are encouraged and assisted to balance career, family and civic commitments with academic study. They also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience. SUNY Empire State College serves more than 20,000 students worldwide with 34 locations in New York state and online. For more information, visit www.esc.edu.

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