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State Grants to SUNY Plattsburgh Will Improve Student Success, Build Community Partnerships

More than $1.6 million from the State University of New York system's Investment and Performance Fund was awarded to SUNY Plattsburgh today, dollars that will help the campus lead local and statewide efforts to improve student academic success and build community partnerships.

An applied-learning program building community and civic engagement, a partnership with New York City community-based organizations to boost student access and completion rates, and a degree-completion effort involving up to 29 SUNY campuses were funded. 

"We care deeply about providing support and lasting opportunities for all students," said SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling. "SUNY's investment in these partnerships and initiatives will pay dividends for current and future students, those returning to higher education, and the greater Plattsburgh community."

The funds represent a portion of $4.6 million announced by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher for campuses in the North Country region. The fund facilitates SUNY’s completion agenda by enabling the scale up of evidence-based campus programs to reach more students.

With the grants, the campus will develop:

A robust partnership program to improve access and success of New York City students. Working with New York City community-based organizations focused on improving access to higher education and completion rates for lower-income and first-generation students, SUNY Plattsburgh will receive $375,000 for campus academic support systems, mentoring and transportation. The fund will allow the program to begin in fall 2016. Tuition revenue will sustain the program in future years. Organizations will also provide support through on-campus visits, regular contact, and summer programs.

An applied-learning effort to increase community and civic engagement through projects focused on local impact and interest. A total of $250,000 will be provided under the grant. Faculty will lead student-centered, active-learning projects. Collaborating campuses may include SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oneonta, and SUNY Oswego. Among the local partnerships proposed are:

oStudents in literature and film classes will identify local sustainability issues and develop short documentaries on the subject, generating community awareness and interest in the subject.

oPhilosophy and environmental science classes will address the problem of microplastics in Lake Champlain. Microbeads in many personal hygiene products, too small to be screened in wastewater treatment, accumulate in the lake and affect fish, birds and humans. Students will investigate the effects, ways to address the problem, look at ethical considerations and identify ways to increase public awareness.

oStudents in environmental and history classes will examine the issue of climate change by exploring recent events and possible resolutions to political and social challenges impacting it.

SUNY Plattsburgh will serve as lead campus for SUNY Smart Track Re-Enroll to Complete. The project, involving a unique collaboration of SUNY campuses, will encourage withdrawn students to return and finish their degrees. The $1 million grant will serve the project at 29 campuses across the state.

Student loan borrowers at the campuses who withdraw from classes will receive early outreach communications from a vendor upon notification of the withdrawals. Messages will reach borrowers as quickly as possible following their separation from SUNY campuses, in most cases much earlier than federally mandated time frames.

Results from a pilot study showed student borrowers who received early outreach communications were more likely to return to school to complete their higher education than those who did not receive the customized, more frequent outreach. Students who withdraw from campus before completion are more likely to default on their student loans. As a result, more students will return to college. Fewer will default on student loans.

“SUNY campuses in the North Country have a unique strength and capacity for systemness that is evident in the collaborative projects funded by these awards,” Zimpher said. “Whether it is reaching out to former SUNY students to help them return and finish their degree or ensuring that current students are prepared for career success through SUNY’s first Center for Applied Learning, the North Country initiatives are a remarkable sample of what the Investment and Performance Fund is accomplishing for our students.”

The Investment and Performance Fund was first established by an $18 million allocation in the 2015-2016 New York State Budget. In an effort to grow the fund and extend eligibility to its community colleges, SUNY also pooled from existing resources — the Educational Opportunity Program , Open SUNY, the Empire Innovation Program, and $55 million from the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program — to create a $100 million Expanded Investment and Performance Fund.

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