Elizabeth Denevi, director of East Ed, leads a discussion during a student diversity leadership conference on Nov. 6, 2019.

Niagara University’s Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equality, and Mission hosted a pair of community meetings focused on the area’s youth on Nov. 5 and 6, 2019.

The first, which took place on Nov. 5 in Niagara University’s Bisgrove Hall, brought together approximately 50 teachers, practitioners, school leaders, and community stakeholders to discuss “Improving Mental Health Access & Support for Youth.” Presenters included Dr. Rolanda Ward, associate professor of social work at Niagara University and endowed faculty director of the Ostapenko Center; Dr. Nisha Sachdev, associate, Center for Health and Health Care in Schools; and Dr. Linda Sheriff, deputy director, Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. The event was presented by Catholic Health Mount St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and Niagara University, and supported by the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation.

The next day, more than 150 private high school students with diverse identities came together at Niagara University to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at a conference organized by the Education Collaborative of WNY and East Ed, a nonprofit agency dedicated to promoting equity and diversity in schools, colleges, universities, and community agencies. Elizabeth Denevi, director of East Ed, opened the event, during which students participated in exercises and discussions to help them understand more about themselves and their group identities, learn appropriate language and terms to discuss difference and equity and the skills to identify and address stereotypes and prejudice, and communicate more effectively across difference.

The Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equality, and Mission establishes critical interdependencies both on and off campus, working together with faculty and students across colleges and disciplines of study to leverage change in the academy and across sectors of education, business, government, and the community. As such, the center serves as a resource to the community on issues of racial equity.

Your Thoughts