UR sponsored a day-long conference to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. focusing on education in low-income urban areas, on Jan. 17.

“I hope that the day’s events encouraged students to get involved in something, be passionate about something, not just go to class,” keynote speaker and Class of 2002 alumnus Malik Evans said.

Evans, a current member of the Rochester City School Board and the University Trustee Alumni Council, addressed a lunchtime crowd in the May Room of Wilson Commons with members of the administration, various student groups and community organizations in attendance.

“You don’t have to be old to make a difference. What I’d like to see is a city-wide mentorship program, for every student in the [Rochester City School] District,” Evans said. “UR has the potential to be a major partner in such an effort.”

“Evans really understands the importance of developing education on a personal level and developing one-on- one relationships,” junior Nick Drury said.

“Evans was a great speaker who did a good job incorporating Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy. Everyone here is motivated to get something going, having heard what he’s done.”

The conference also included two workshops and an Information Expo, all focused on urban education. The morning workshop examined the recent success of the Green Street Arts Center as an example of the university’s collaboration with its surrounding community.

In the case of the Green Street Art Center, the collaboration was an effort by Wesleyan University and the City of Middleton, Connecticut to revitalize the North End neighborhood of the community.

A center offering a variety of high quality media and visual arts and dance classes to all members of the community.

At the Bridge Lounge, students had an opportunity to review a number of volunteer and career opportunities in urban education.

The information expo featured representatives from organizations such as Teach for America and Leadership Rochester, as well as campus organizations such as Grassroots, the College Career Center, the Community Service Network and Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education.

“I thought the workshops did a really great job of integrating the Rochester community and the UR community, both faculty and students,” sophomore Steve Privitera said. “It really inspired you to want to get involved and help others.”

The afternoon workshop in the May Room of Wilson Commons featured representatives from the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), an organization that trains teachers and runs highly successful, free urban schools with open enrollment on a first come first serve basis.

KIPP’s national Director of Outreach Allison Rouse, shared KIPP’s achievements with an enthusiastic crowd.

“In our first year working with them, our staff went out on an aggressive campaign and toured 21 of the 36 KIPP affiliates,” UR Director of Diversity Enhancement and Associate Director of Admissions Darryl Boone said. Boone has the University’s involvement with the organization. “We are developing a pool of potential applicants,” he said.

Boone believes the relationship to be mutually beneficial. “Although most KIPP schools end at eighth grade, we hope to create linkages since [KIPP graduates] are attending some of the best high schools in the country,” Boone said.

Freshmen Keisha Rolle, who attended a KIPP affiliate school in the south Bronx, is the first KIPP graduate to attend the University of Rochester, although seven more have applied for next year, according to Boone.

“If it weren’t for KIPP, I wouldn’t be at Rochester,” Rolle said.

“I hope to see the Rochester community as a whole become involved with the KIPP schools,” Leader at KIPP Sankofa Charter School in Buffalo Uchenna Smith said. “We have an African drum and dance performing group. Wouldn’t it be great to have some of our students come to Rochester to talk and perform? They can tour the campus and help them see that college is an attainable goal.”

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