Erie Community College Community Engagement

Erie Community College Community Engagement

A snapshot of Community Engagement and Applied Learning at Erie Community College

ECC’s Better Together Interfaith Service Campaign

The purpose of this project was to increase interfaith dialogue and understanding by involving college students from diverse religious traditions in community service activities. ECC’s Better Together campaign was a response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. ECC students, faculty, and staff donated household items to completely furnish the home of an incoming refugee family. A group of students then set up the home with these donations prior to the family’s arrival in Buffalo.

Buffalo Neighborhood Promise Grant (BPN)

BPN has created an intentional, “Family Economic Success” approach.  Residents currently living in the 14215 zip code are provided a Life Skills/Career Coach through ECC’s Education 2 Recovery Program. The Life Skills/Career Coach provides an intake assessment that includes the client’s current level of functioning in living, learning and working. Through this assessment, the coach assists in providing academic, vocational and employment opportunities that best suit the client. Many clients have financial and academic barriers that the coach helps in resolving. The goal is for the client to complete a program that develops a higher level of skill and, upon completion, provides employment through partnerships in the community (99% rate).  ECC also provides meaningful pre-collegiate and pre-career experiences to support early education, as well as fosters a college-going environment for students and neighborhood residents. 

Campus contact: Dr. Marsha D. Jackson,, Regina Lettieri,   

Opportunity Knocks

This unique partnership between Erie Community College and Buffalo State College (BSC) provides a networking opportunity for current ECC students who intend to transfer to BSC to meet former ECC students who graduated and transferred to BSC.  Over lunch, provided by ECC’s Culinary Arts Program, these students engage in conversations about their academic and social experiences at BSC.  Students can also take a guided tour of BSC to complete their application and meet with faculty and staff. 

Campus contacts: Dr. Marsha D. Jackson, and Kathleen Bonds,

Information Technology Program

The program assisted The Buffalo City Mission with the creation of a database to track and inventory donations. The database plays a pivotal role in organizing the numerous donations received annually and expediting provision of services to those in need.  

Campus contact: Regina Lettieri,   

ESL Service Learning Partnership

ECC English as a Second Language students assist the International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland with their communication efforts. The school offers educational opportunities to students in grades 5-12, with a population of over 39% of English language learners, and encourages students to pursue education beyond high school.  Service learning activities strengthen communication between families and the institution by providing the translation of documents and interpretation during family engagement events. ECC provides students with beneficial experiential learning opportunities within their community.  

Dress for Success Buffalo

The mission of Dress for Success Buffalo is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Erie Community College serves as a partnering organization offering a campus career service program, workshops/presentations, and assistance with enrolling in college. Each Job-ready woman is provided with a business suit for the job interview and professional clothing after she secures a position. She also receives an invitation to join the Professional Women’s Group, a career development and networking group, offered at Erie Community College. 

Campus contact: Dr. Marsha D. Jackson,

The Spirit of Giving Campaign

During the holidays each year, ECC works hard to provide holiday cheer to some of the neediest members of the Buffalo community. ECC sponsors a number of activities including: President Jack Quinn’s Annual Holiday Food Drive in which the faculty and staff donate non-perishable items and toys to be given to ECC students in need; “Mittens & Hats” where we donate new mittens and hats to the infants, toddlers and preschoolers in the ECC daycare center; “Story Time” when faculty and staff volunteer to read to the children in the daycare center; “Buffalo Café” where ECC students and staff serve meals at the homeless shelter; and “Dress for Success” where ECC staff and students volunteer at Dress for Success Buffalo sorting donated clothing to be distributed to clients seeking support for job interviews.

Campus contact: Dr. Marsha D. Jackson, 

Western New York Iraq-Afghanistan Memorial Effort

This effort involves collaboration between veterans, colleges, community, and corporations to build a memorial to the 67 WNY natives who have died during the wars since 9/11. Community efforts have included the Buffalo Sabres and Bandits along with the Basil Family of Dealerships to raise awareness and funds to complete the Memorial in 2014. The design and effort have become more of a place of healing for veterans and families and a way for the community to stay connected and embrace the sacrifices made. During the Gold & Blue Star family tribute walk held in October of 2013, student veterans from ECC participated in all aspects of planning and walking during the event as a service leadership opportunity. 

Campus contact: Dan Frontera,

Service to Veterans Programs

Mayors Roundtable for Veterans Support Services

Held in conjunction with the Buffalo Mayor’s Office to provide more targeted outreach within the city of Buffalo for Veterans services.

Artists and Veterans Collaborative

Provides veterans the opportunity to explore issues of readjustment and trauma associated with their service through multiple art media.

SPCA Paws & Patriots

This effort trains veterans, referred by colleges, and local mental health providers the opportunity to be trained in the “Open Paws” engagement program, in which veterans work with shelter dogs preparing them for adoption. Since inception more than 700 dogs have been successfully adopted and the dogs have served as readjustment aids for veterans.

Vietnam Veteran Agent Orange Legacy

This community outreach effort included a service leadership component involving student veterans from ECC. More than 250 people attended and received information about the long-term family effects of chemical exposure. This caused many of the student veterans to take a deeper interest in their potential exposure, a form of civic engagement.

Buffalo Veterans Affairs Picnic and Stand Down events

These two events engaged more than 2500 veterans in the community to provide information on various community based services

Female Veterans Outreach

This is a specific targeted outreach to female veterans and reservists to better engage them with the community services available to support the special needs of the female warriors.

WNY Veterans Housing, Altamont Housing, Buffalo City Mission Veterans programs

These programs engage veterans who are in transitional service housing to increase their educational levels and employment skills. Efforts include on site vocational assessment, program application, resume writing, as well as planned Pre-Collegiate classes.

Compeer Vet2Vet program

This program was developed with our assistance to provide mentoring opportunities for community veterans to engage individuals who are struggling with readjustment. COMPEER has weekly visits to the campus to engage students

Community Partners supporting student veterans, reservists, and military dependents

Buffalo Vet Center for readjustment and mental health counseling includes bi-weekly visits to the campus to assist veterans on site.

Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court

Assists students with misdemeanor crimes to successfully adjudicate their sentences through treatment plans including education

Campus contact: Dan Frontera,

Give Kids a Smile Day

Fifty of Erie Community College’s Dental Hygiene students utilized Just 4 me Pediatric and Adolescent Dental Care offices in Getzville, NY to provide free dental care to several hundred children from Erie and Niagara Counties as part of the American Dental Association-sponsored Give Kids a Smile Day on Friday, February 7, 2014. The ADA’s nationally recognized day, now in its 12th year, is a promoted dentistry initiative to bring disadvantaged children, many of whom have never been to a dentist before, into dental offices for free treatment. 

Campus contact: Dr. Marti Peterson,

Character Education and Development

In partnership with the Character Council of WNY, whose mission is to promote character throughout society, ECC has worked to create a campus culture of respect and excellence among students, staff, faculty and administrators. ECC is the first college to become a member of the Character Council of Western New York. In partnership with graduate students from Niagara University, ECC’s Character Committee and Student Government Association sponsor character and leadership luncheons on each of the ECC campuses. Students from ECC’s Graphic Arts Department, the Health Physical Education and Recreation Club and the Young Adult Life Transition program (YALT) support the Character Carnival, which is an annual event in the Village of Hamburg, NY, that teaches children the meaning of various character traits through activities and entertainment. 

Campus contact: Frances Moyer,

Friends of the Night People

This charitable organization helps the poor, homeless and destitute in Buffalo, providing food, clothing, medical care, counseling and hope to those in need.  For the last 8 years, students of ECC’s Ophthalmic Dispensing Program provide free services to the clients of the Friends of the Night People on alternate Mondays from 12 noon to 4 pm. They manage the eye clinic and dispense glasses for an average of 12 – 16 new patients during each clinic.

Campus contact: John Godert,

Barefoot for Bare Feet

ECC Men’s Basketball Coach Alex Nwora participated for the third straight year in the "Barefoot for Bare Feet" program, intended to bring awareness of the struggles of impoverished children who suffer from foot-borne diseases and infections due to the lack of shoes. He started Global Sports Advantage, an organization to help connect sports to impoverished children worldwide. He combined part of his work with Global Sports Advantage with the organization Samaritan's Feet to help bring shoes to children around the world. Last year, ECC raised more than $1,000 for this cause. 

Campus contact: Alex Nwora,

Young Adult Life Transition Program

Young adults with developmental disabilities can experience life at Erie Community College (ECC) while enhancing their functional skills. With People Inc.’s Young Adult Life Transitions (YALT) community-based program, young adults with developmental disabilities, ages 18-23, attend college at ECC. The YALT Program is a comprehensive, non-degree, campus-based program for highly motivated young adults with diverse learning and other special needs. These students have a strong desire to continue their education with their peers. The goal is to help these students learn the skills they need to live, learn, work and play in their community.

Campus contact: Dr. Marsha D. Jackson,

Erie Community College

6205 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716) 851-1ECC