Dr. Anael Alston, assistant commissioner for the Office of Access, Equity, and Community Engagement Services, presented the keynote address at a summit on children living in poverty, co-sponsored by Niagara University’s College of Education, the Ostapenko Center for Race, Equality and Mission, and the Levesque Institute.

Approximately 100 people and a dozen community agencies gathered in the Russel J. Salvatore Dining Commons on Niagara University’s campus Friday, Jan. 25, to connect with one another, learn what services are available to children living in poverty, and discuss what else can be done to alleviate economic insecurity in our region.

“Mobilizing the Community to Transform the Lives of Children Living in Poverty,” co-sponsored by Niagara University’s College of Education, the Ostapenko Center for Race, Equality and Mission, and the Levesque Institute, began with a keynote presentation by Dr. Anael Alston, assistant commissioner for the Office of Access, Equity, and Community Engagement Services. Dr. Alston shared information about two state initiatives: P-TECH, which facilitates public-private partnerships to prepare young people with the academic, technical, and professional skills required for 21st century jobs; and My Brother’s Keeper, which aims to increase the academic achievement and college and career readiness of boys and young men of color. He also facilitated roundtable discussions among the participants to bring attention to the perception of those living in poverty.

Following the keynote address, those in attendance were able to network with representatives of community agencies including the United Way; Heart, Love & Soul; The Salvation Army; Northpointe Council; Literacy New York; and the Levesque Institute.

“The College of Education at Niagara University is committed to preparing professionals who have the knowledge, skills, and determination to serve children and families in need in our communities,” said Dr. Chandra Foote, dean of the College of Education. “Dr. Alston's inspiring words and the connections we made with the wide variety of local, like-minded agencies will help us do that in a more organized and effective manner.” 

Earlier in the day, the College of Education held a poverty simulation, facilitated by the Orleans-Niagara Teacher Center, to promote poverty awareness, increase understanding of the many issues facing individuals living in poverty, and inspire local change.