The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Higher Education and Professional Practice


Opportunity Programs Make a Difference in Closing the Gap in Educational Achievement  - the Liberty Partnerships Program


June 14, 2004




To inform the Regents


Goal 1









The Board of Regents and State Education Department, as well as partners across the University of the State of New York (USNY), continue to be engaged in numerous strategies and initiatives to close the achievement gaps for students - students across the entire education spectrum.  Not only do we want to ensure that all students in K-12 reach the learning standards, we also want to improve access to, and achievement in, higher education.   Strong partnerships and linkages between K-12 education and college and university programs are critical to the continued success of students throughout their educational careers.   It is important to examine successful partnerships and strategies so that we can support and build on these initiatives.     Some good examples of strong K-16 linkages and partnerships can be found in the five Opportunity Programs administered by the Department’s Office of Higher Education (through its Office of K-16 Initiatives and Access Programs). 


Opportunity Programs are often offered to students beginning in the fifth grade and can continue though graduate study.  Together, the programs:


§       Serve the learning needs of at-risk students and students who are educationally underprepared; and

§       Help students to gain skills and consider career opportunities in traditionally underrepresented fields, including science, mathematics, technology and the licensed professions.




The five Opportunity Programs administered by the State Education Department are:


§       The Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) 

§       The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)

§       The Teacher Opportunity Corps (TOC)

§       The Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP)

§       The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)


Over 30,000 students across the State participate in the five Opportunity Programs each year.  Participants live in urban, suburban and rural areas of New York State.  Many come from families with lower incomes. All program participants have demonstrated high potential for successful secondary and/or collegiate experience.


Each of these programs has achieved a demonstrated record of success since they were established.  Over 35,000 elementary, middle and secondary students who participated in LPP and STEP have already successfully graduated from high school. Similarly, over 40,000 college students who participated in HEOP and CSTEP have graduated from colleges and universities. Over 2,000 teachers have come through TOC.   The New York State Education Department received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) last month in recognition of the successful operation of the Science and Technology Entry Programs (STEP) and the Collegiate Science and Technology Programs (CSTEP).


This report on the Liberty Partnerships Program is the first of a series of reports to the Board of Regents over the next few months that will highlight the successes of the Opportunity Programs and identify strategies for channeling best practices so that more students can benefit.



Liberty Partnerships Program: Ensuring Excellence and Opportunity



The Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) was created in 1988 as a bi-partisan legislative initiative.  Through funds administered by the Office of Higher Education, LPP provides grants to postsecondary institutions to collaborate with public and non-public schools, parents and other local stakeholders to develop and implement comprehensive 12-month programs designed to prepare at-risk youth for postsecondary education and the workforce.  There are now 57 LPP projects statewide serving approximately 14,000 students in urban, suburban and rural communities (Attachment A).


          The colleges and universities participating in the Liberty Partnerships Program are more than fiduciary managers of the grant.  They are active stakeholders in the implementation of the vision and mission of the program.  Colleges and universities provide organizational leadership along with additional internal and external resources. They also collaborate with LPP and partner schools to support the local educational plans and improve the college preparation and admissions rates among at-risk students.



Student Eligibility Criteria


Students are eligible to participate in an LPP project if they have a history that includes one or more of the following characteristics:


§       Poor academic performance  

§       Teenage pregnancy/parenting

§       Attendance/truancy

§       Discipline problems

§       Substance abuse

§       Parental abuse/neglect

§       Homeless/live in shelter

§       Negative peer pressure

§       Change in family circumstance



Ethnic Distribution of LPP Students


           Students in LPP programs come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds as this chart illustrates:



Keys to Success



          The 57 LPP programs across the State are remarkably diverse although several common elements have been demonstrated to be effective in successful LPP projects:


§       Year-round programming and services that promote educational and personal excellence among at-risk youth.    It offers 12-month guidance and support and positive alternatives to environments, decisions and activities that hold them at risk.



§       The Academic Support component facilitates effective teaching and learning strategies. It is defined statewide and locally as a program or service that positively affects in-class learning and student achievement on local and statewide exams.  Services offered through this component include: prescriptive assessments, learning communities, tutoring, homework assistance, developmental and advanced courses, study skills workshops and computer-assisted instruction.


§       Counseling is offered through systemic, student-centered, personal development and guidance programs that provide grade- and age-appropriate services designed to help students:


Ø     Identify the issues that place them at risk;

Ø     Develop strategies and support systems that will help them overcome personal and societal barriers, graduate from high school, pursue postsecondary education and enter the workforce as healthy, self-directed young adults;

Ø     Strengthen their locus of control in educational and personal decision-making processes; and

Ø     Develop and implement plans for their future.


§       Case management provides holistic needs assessments, individualized and coordinated service plans, ongoing monitoring, case-conferencing and follow-up.


§       Professional development opportunities designed to enhance and/or improve the performance of project staff, school personnel, and other partners in the development and delivery of services to at-risk students.


§       Collaborative community activities that generate sustained resources for at-risk students and high-need schools in a planned program to facilitate the participation of LPP stakeholders in the development and implementation of the LPP.  Elements of this component include the presence of an advisory board, interagency sharing and coordination of resources and incorporation of LPP within the Comprehensive Education Plan and Academic Intervention Strategies of partner schools and districts.


§       Recreation and cultural enrichment provides opportunities for LPP students to expand their “world view” and prepare for interactions that extend beyond the scope of their immediate environment.


§       Community-service offers the LPP student strategic grade-level, age-appropriate and research-based opportunities to address a local need.  Embedded in the activities of this component are opportunities to use the information learned in classrooms in a real-world environment, practical applications of learning standards within specific disciplines, opportunities to develop work-based skills and to acquire exposure to additional career paths.





Ø     The dropout rate among LPP students is under two percent compared to the statewide average of over five percent.

Ø     Since 1990, 17,992 students, considered at-risk, graduated from high school through the Liberty Partnerships Program, 13,281 entered postsecondary education and 2,536 entered the workforce immediately following high school graduation.

Ø     LPP sends an annual average of 1,500 students to college every year.

Ø     In 2002-2003, 83.5 percent of LPP students went on to college.

Ø     Roughly 86 percent of college-going LPP students attend higher education institutions located in New York State.

Ø     LPP alumni include students pursing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral study, lawyers, medical doctors, teachers, social workers, public administrators and other professional positions.

Ø     Most importantly, LPP alumni become contributing members of society and parents with a positive vision for their children’s future.



Examples of LPP Best Practices


          What distinguishes LPP from many other academic intervention programs is the fact that, along with literacy and other academic skills, LPP seeks to teach emotional and social skills in an environment that the students themselves describe as safe, supportive, and secure.  The program strives to build a community in which students find the support they need to develop leadership skills, to reinvent their sense of themselves as learners, and to overcome both academic and social/emotional obstacles in their lives.  The following projects provide exciting examples of best practices that could potentially be extended:


§       Bank Street College and the Use of Meta Cognitive Research and Case Management to Improve Educational Outcomes of At-Risk Students


The Bank Street Liberty Partnerships Program is a dropout prevention and after-school program serving over 230 students from 102 schools, including high schools located in three boroughs of New York City and middle schools and elementary schools in Regions 9 and 10 (formerly Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7). Students live in communities such as Harlem, the South Bronx, Washington Heights, and parts of Brooklyn.  Now completing its 15th year, the program continues to receive partial funding through the New York State Education Department. More than half of its funding, however, comes from foundations and corporations.


The Bank Street LPP uses an inclusive model to teach to the variety of learning strengths and weaknesses of LPP students.  Curriculum and teaching styles are adapted to meet the needs of participants, some of whom have been identified as students with learning disabilities. 



The Learning Clinic


Bank Street’s LPP methodology is based on the work of Dr. Mel Levine and the All Kinds Of Minds Institute in Chapel Hill, NC, and is used in Bank Street College’s special education graduate coursework. The method helps students and their teachers recognize, understand, and manage differences in learning. The Clinic is a two-year program that includes evaluations and assessments, group and individual tutoring, social and emotional interventions, and advocacy for children and their families. In the Learning Clinic, LPP students work individually and in groups with graduate students who are studying special education and language and literacy development. As a team, each LPP student and graduate student develops a specific learning profile that outlines both strengths and weaknesses and strategies to compensate. Armed with this kind of specificity about their learning, LPP students can ask for, and their regular teachers can provide, more useful support in the areas in which they are struggling.  In addition, through the discussions with the youth about their strengths and weaknesses, Bank Street LPP staff work against the labeling of children and the associated stigma.


An additional “big picture” goal of the learning clinic is the implications for teacher training.  The Bank Street College graduate students who work with LPP students are learning through the experience of using observable patterns of learning behavior to construct management plans for students in the classroom. Future teachers can use this valuable methodology in schools throughout NYS.


Bank Street has been extraordinarily successful, with a high school graduation rate of over 90 percent. This is all the more remarkable given the fact that over three-quarters of the students are originally referred to the program on the basis of poor academic performance and attend high schools where graduation rates are below 60 percent; some as low as 20 percent. Further, a full 90 percent of Bank Street’s LPP students apply to college and 100 percent of the applicants are admitted. Many students attend local schools and universities; others have attended out-of-town institutions including Wesleyan, Bard, Temple, Tufts, Williams, and Clark Atlanta.


§       John Jay College for Criminal Justice: Risk Reduction through Counseling and Case Management


The Liberty Partnerships Program at John Jay College for Criminal Justice has been providing comprehensive dropout prevention services to 150 students in collaboration with the College, Martin Luther King, Jr. High School and Park West High School and local community stakeholders for the past 14 years.  The John Jay College Liberty Partnerships Program is a school-based day, extended day model and offers after-school programming at John Jay College.


The primary goals of the John Jay College LPP are to: (1) improve the abilities of at-risk students and encourage them to complete high school and (2) prepare students for entry into postsecondary education and the workforce. Through effective counseling and case management, LPP staff, in collaboration with the student and other interested parties:



Ø     Identify the root causes of issues that place LPP students at risk

Ø     Form goal-oriented strategies designed to reduce and/or eliminate the risk factors that hold LPP students in jeopardy, and

Ø     Facilitate personal and educational achievement.


The Process/The Program


John Jay’s Counseling/Case Management component begins at intake.  The student completes a comprehensive assessment and a profile analysis is formed. A case plan that includes goals and objectives is developed in collaboration with the student.  Individual counseling sessions are scheduled on a bi-weekly basis or as needed.  Students are engaged as partners in monitoring and evaluating their progress and making adjustments to the case plan.  Assistance is also available on a drop-in basis and staff conduct group sessions to encourage a spirit of community among peers as they work through college and career planning processes, conflicts or crisis. 


A low student/staff ratio of 50:1 (as compared to the overall student/counselor ratio of 500:1) has proven successful in nurturing productive relationships between LPP staff and students.  Staff meet monthly to share observations of individual students and coordinate strategies in collaboration with families, the participating schools, college and community partners as necessary.


John Jay’s program has had a number of successes and results: 


Ø     Staff have been instrumental in uncovering several cases of rape, child neglect and abuse and have worked with their partner schools and government agencies in support of student safety.

Ø     The LPP was extremely valuable in assisting partner schools, students and families in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.

Ø     Parents perceive this LPP as a resource.

Ø     In the past three years, only one student withdrew from school prior to graduation.

Ø     In 2002-2003, 100 percent of the LPP graduating class enrolled in college.


§       State University College at Oswego: College-School Collaboration


The State University College (SUC) at Oswego Liberty Partnership Programs is a collaborative project designed by LPP staff, faculty members of the SUC Oswego’s School of Education and representatives of participating school districts including Central Square, Hannibal and Mexico, in cooperation with community-based organizations.  While the goal of the Liberty Partnerships Program is to improve the educational performances of at-risk youth, this LPP illustrates the additional collateral benefits to the college and school community as it enriches the experiences of at-risk youth.


The Benefits


Benefits for Participating Schools

benefits for

SUC Oswego

benefits for LPP Students and families

-        Ongoing support from faculty, staff of SUC Oswego

-        High-quality academic support services for at-risk students through SUC Oswego’s School of Education

-        Additional counseling services provided through the LPP and the Psychology Department, SUC Oswego Counseling and Psychological Services, and The Department of Health Promotion and Wellness

-        New curriculum to improve the performance of at-risk students through art; activities help students develop deeper understanding of the arts as social commentary within a global perspective, while also meeting state educational standards in language arts, social studies, science, math, technology and art

-        Opportunity for good public and community relations

-        LPP and schools provide opportunities for students to fulfill their requirements for Practicum and Methodology (CPS), student teaching (School of Education), as well as internships and practical experiences for college students

-        Additional source of financial aid and employment for college students


-        Free supplemental services

-        Alternative strategies and resources for improving academic performance and personal problems



New LPP Initiative: Empire Promise


In anticipation of more rigorous requirements for high school graduation and increased competition for opportunities in postsecondary education and the workforce, the Liberty Partnerships Program began a process to strengthen its ability to help students prepare for the challenge through the development of a new initiative, Empire Promise.   Empire Promise is the re-engineered workforce development component of the Liberty Partnerships Program. By design, Empire Promise seeks to close the performance gap for all students for academic achievement, educational attainment and career opportunities by employing systemic strategies to:


ü     Integrate the efforts of Liberty Partnerships Program within the missions of the higher education community and efforts to advance the economic and social development needs of New York;

ü     Ensure that at-risk youth will achieve the State’s Higher Learning Standards; and

ü     Prepare its students for competitive opportunities in postsecondary education and the workforce.


The Higher Education Committee of the Board of Regents endorsed the Empire Promise Initiative in October 2001 as a five-year strategy to establish higher education and healthy development of youth as an integral part of New York’s long-term strategy for economic and social development.  Since that time, efforts have been targeted to three broad goals:


  1. Conduct five annual summits to engage stakeholders of the Liberty Partnerships Program in strategic planning processes that will enhance program design, resources and services at the state and local level.


This year’s summit, Moving From Vision to Excellence, engaged LPP stakeholders in strategic planning sessions to create frameworks for the development of pre-profession academies and summer institutes to prepare LPP students for educational and career paths in:


§       Nursing and the Allied Health Professions

§       K-20 Teacher Development, Educational Leadership and Research

§       Public Service: Leadership in Law and Government

§       Economic and Community Development

§       Fine and Performing Arts


Stakeholders also identified opportunities for enhancing local and regional initiatives to improve the educational outcomes of LPP students.  Reports from the summit were submitted to the Officer of the Liberty Partnerships Program and meetings with select groups have been set up to transform the recommendations into actionable funding proposals and plans for implementation by Summer 2005.


  1. Create statewide and regional pre-profession institutes and summer academies that will prepare LPP students for guaranteed admissions to postsecondary education institutions and career paths of choice.


One recent example of a successful pre-professional summer institute is the Empire Promise Nurse Opportunity Corps. Piloted in the summer of 2003 and scheduled again for the summer of 2004, the program helps to prepare students in the Liberty Partnership Program for guaranteed admission to baccalaureate nursing programs upon high school graduation.  Participants receive comprehensive, pre-professional orientation to nursing and academic enrichment through summer residential programs and school year involvement in their local communities. The Empire Promise Nurse Opportunity Corps is a collaborative venture of the State Education Department, the Foundation of the New York State Nurses Association, the New York State Nurses Association, The Sage Colleges, the State University of New York at Binghamton, and Utica College of Syracuse University.   The program directly supports the recommendations of the Regents Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Nursing.  Regent Diane O’Neill McGivern, Chair of the Task Force, and Regent Anthony Bottar, Task Force member, provided significant input into the development of this successful initiative.


  1. Develop and advance policy and legislative agenda to incorporate higher education and the healthy development of youth as an integral part of New York’s long-term strategy for economic and social development.


Empire Promise Awards


In 2003, Liberty Partnerships began a practice of recognizing visionary leaders who demonstrate their belief in the potential of all students through action, advocacy, innovation and invention.  Empire Promise Award recipients for 2003 include Dennis Murray, President, Marist College; Todd Hutton, President, Utica College; and Muriel Howard, President, State University College at Buffalo.  Recipients for 2004 include David A. Caputo, President, Pace University; Kenneth A. Shaw, Chancellor and President, Syracuse University; Lois De Fleur, President, State University at Binghamton as well as Commissioner Mills and me.





          Closing the achievement gap in education is, and should be, a priority for all of our USNY partners.  This report, and those that will follow, focus on the higher education Opportunity Programs administered by the State Education Department and the role these programs play in closing the gap and improving access to and success in higher education.  These programs serve as examples for all of USNY on how working together, pooling our collective interests and strengths, can ultimately result in success for all students.

                                                                                                                                                                Attachment A

Colleges, Universities and Organizations that Support LPP in 2004


Associated Colleges (a consortium of upstate colleges)          Nassau CC

Bank Street College                                                             New York University

Barnard College                                                                  Niagara County CC

Bronx CC                                                                            Onondaga CC

Borough of Manhattan CC                                                    Orange County CC

Canisius College                                                                  Pace University

Center for Women in Government                               Pratt Institute

Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc.                                          Puerto Rican Youth Development Ctr.

City College                                                                        Queensborough CC

College of Staten Island                                                       St. John’s University

Daemen College                                                                  Schenectady County CC

Fordham University                                                              School of Visual Arts

Genesee CC                                                                       SUC at Buffalo

Hofstra University                                                                SUC at Cortland

Hostos CC                                                                          SUC at Fredonia

Hunter College                                                                     SUC at Oswego

Institute for Student Achievement                                          SUC at Purchase

Jackie Robinson Center                                                       Suffolk County CC

Iona College                                                                        SUNY at Binghamton

John Jay College                                                                 SUNY at Buffalo

Kingsborough CC                                                                 Bob Lanier Center

LaGuardia CC                                                                     SUNY at Cobleskill

LeMoyne College                                                                 SUNY at Farmingdale

LIU/Brooklyn Campus                                                          SUNY at Morrisville

LIU/Southampton                                                                 SUNY Rockland

Marist College                                                                     SUNY at Stony Brook

Medgar Evers College                                                         Syracuse University

Monroe CC                                                                         Urban League of Long Island

                                                                                          Utica College