Four UR students performed “The Power of Dance” last Tuesday at the Rochester City School District’s Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School No. 19 to kick off Project CARE – Coaches and Role Models for Empowerment.

“We have been working with the school district for over a year to get the Project Care in place, Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “The Power of Dance was an idea we had and worked with MLK committee to get going.”

The Power of Dance used Afro-Expressions, the Ballet Performance Group, UR Hip Hop and Yosakoi to discuss diversity and education.

According to the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, the goals of Project CARE are to empower students to achieve higher academic levels, encourage higher attendance rates, promote positive behavior and to help students develop future aspirations and goals. To reach these goals, UR student volunteers will be paired with one or two elementary school-aged children to tutor and mentor them once a week.

“This past week, 36 student volunteers were trained and observations were started in the schools,” Americorps VISTA Program Coordinator Stacey Fisher said. “Talk of this project started 18 months ago when students wanted to impact the Rochester-area youth and create a consistent relationship with them.”

During a Martin Luther King Day planning meeting in the fall of 2004, the idea to explore urban education was proposed. Now, the pilot program is currently operating in three schools, Clara Barton School No. 2, the Chester Dewey School No. 14 and the Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School No. 19.

Project CARE will provide the transportation for the student volunteers to these schools.

“So far it is going really well,” Fisher said. “We have been talking to the district and we have identified the schools in need. The teachers are being very responsive and they are curious. They really want to see results.”

Those involved in planning the program are very optimistic about the positive results they are expecting. “This program is great because everyone will grow together,” Rochester Center for Community Leadership Coordinator Bryan Rotach said. “We introduce the [student] coaches to the parents so they can build relationships with trust and commitment.

Continuing, he said, “We have the ability to have an impact and it doesn’t stop here. Over the summer we will re-evaluate the system and build on something bigger.”Paret can be reached at

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