A new center at Stony Brook University will help surrounding underserved communities improve health and education, build capacity to tackle community-based challenges and put food on families’ tables.
The new Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development brings together faculty from across the Stony Brook campus to work on community-based projects that can best be addressed from a multidisciplinary approach.
“The Center for Community Engagement Leadership Development is meant to be a bridge between the university and the community,” said Assistant Director Casey McGloin.
“The center allows for a broad-based exchange of central ideas,”said Associate Director Brooke Ellison. “It makes sense to have people all in one spot rather than scattered throughout the university, because then we can exchange ideas.”
The main focal points include community engagement, helping communities to reach their goals, engaging in community based participatory research, and establishing a pipeline of researchers dedicated to this work. The team is led by Associate Dean Carlos Vidal, Ellison, McGloin, Educational Specialist Erik Flynn and Program Associate Jennifer Mesiano Higham. The center will be housed in the School of Health Technology and Management.
According to a description released last September, the program’s initial focus is to “enhance the academic experience of future leaders in community health disciplines and collaborate with local community members to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.”
The Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development has several important goals designed to work toward meeting its mission: service learning, leadership development and research. Select activities of the center include the Health Careers Academic Readiness and Excellence (HCARE) and HCARE HStem programs, which exposes high school students in Wyandanch, Brentwood, Amityville, William Floyd, and the Sovereign Unkechaug Nation to the allied health professions.
Faculty and staff from the center travel to these schools and communities and assist students with SAT preparation, college applications, applying for financial aid and anything else that could improve their future educational careers.
The center also provides a Distracted Driving program to curb motor vehicle deaths among youth. Another program is a campus-based food pantry launched last year and co-founded by McGloin, which provides food to members of the Stony Brook University community who are in need, or are food insecure. The center also works with the Town of Islip Youth Bureau to survey middle school students’ needs. The center is proposing to conduct an evidence-based, consumer satisfaction survey of Suffolk County residents on their experiences with the Suffolk County Police Department.
The center has invited representatives from Long Island Native American tribes to begin discussing and exploring the possibility of developing a Long Island Native American business incubator.
“Many Native American Tribes have difficulty getting loans,” McGloin said. Business incubators often can offer services like leadership training and space for entrepreneurs who are interested in developing new business ventures.