This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Spencer Ainsley ‘YR

Poughkeepsie Institute Reports on State of City

Last month, students working with the Poughkeepsie Institute presented a project titled “Discovering Community in Poughkeepsie,” which included a 40-page written report, video and a photo exhibit analyzing the city’s strengths and weaknesses. The findings were shared at the culmination of a 14-week study by 24 students and five faculty members from Vassar, The Culinary Institute of America, Dutchess Community College, Marist College, and SUNY New Paltz. The students had interviewed community leaders, elected officials and residents to learn more about local efforts to build community as well as some of the most pressing problems facing the city today.

Students praised city residents and organizations devoted to youth outreach, human services, and the arts as crucial assets for strengthening community ties. They identified gang violence, illegal drugs and low high school graduation rates as areas of concern, and included some research-based policy recommendations as strategies for mitigating those problems. “We have uncovered more diversity, commitment and potential for change than we could have ever predicted,” wrote students in the report’s conclusion. "If anything, this report finds that Poughkeepsie's residents believe that with the right support, positive sustainable developments can and will materialize.”

The national award-winning Poughkeepsie Institute was founded in 1995 by the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council and is the only collaboration of colleges in America with a municipality as the lead partner. Chaired by Vassar’s fieldwork director Peter Leonard, the Institute offers courses to local college students who report on various issues facing the city. Shown at the presentation, from left, Vassar student Meghan Levine with student Becky Millman (SUNY New Paltz), student Luke Scileppi (Marist) and Peter Leonard.

January 2010

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