Gem City Gems: Erie’s Students as a Vital Resource for a Successful City
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

The success of a city rests in its ability to educate individuals in a way which prepares them for a productive and happy life.  This can occur at many stages, from pre-kindergarten schooling to vocational training and higher education.

Research demonstrates a determinant relationship between education and life outcomes such as economic success, health, social connections, and family stability.  Thus, The Erie Community Foundation views educational projects developed by many local organizations as investments in the future of our city.  With the hope to improve the quality of life for many residents, local organizations such as Gannon University, Mother Teresa Academy, Penn State Erie, and United Way of Erie County are working to supplement Erie’s schools to provide access to mentorship, safety, truancy prevention, and consistency in learning.

Impact

Gannon University’s GO College Program works with students of Erie’s Public Schools to provide advising, mentorship, tutoring, and career exposure in order to increase access to higher education.  Between 2012 and 2016, 22 percent of Erie’s residents earned a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  This measurement is below the rate for both Pennsylvania (29 percent) and the United States (30 percent).  As education levels are strongly correlated with other life outcomes such as earnings and job stability, the work of GO College will embrace the educational potential of our students in order to provide them with increased possibilities for future economic success.

Mother Teresa Academy works to provide students in Erie’s economically-challenged neighborhoods with a private schooling option.  The school is open to all children, regardless of family income, and provides scholarships accordingly.  The Academy is currently working to improve the safety of the campus and to provide students with new outdoor educational facilities.  In its goal to increase access to education and school choice, Mother Teresa Academy will target educational indicators such as student performance and graduation rates by providing an additional educational facility for Erie’s underserved communities.

Penn State Erie’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation (CORE) serves as a resource for the development of Erie’s youth.  Currently, this organization is working to expand its practices to impact additional schools with the Mentor Project and Positive Youth Development initiative.  CORE has also taken action to become a training site for trauma-informed care in the Erie area.  Through their efforts, youth development and mentorship in the area has the potential to impact the ability of children to be successful and focused in school.

United Way of Erie County works tirelessly to meet the specific needs of Erie’s youth through its Community Schools strategy.  Community Schools work to allocate resources for health, wellness, and social services.  As school truancy has been recognized as an area of concern in the city, the United Way is working to establish a campaign to raise awareness of the issue.  By reducing a 25 percent chronic absenteeism rate at five of Erie’s Public Schools, students will be able to receive a more consistent education and allocation of services during the school year.             

How to Get Involved

The City of Erie is in a position of potential in which a large variety of skill sets are present and ready to be refined.  Through a focus on education, Erie has access to a source of economic development and increased well-being.  If you would like to support educational initiatives, contact the Erie Community Foundation for more information on participation and donation.