Civic Leaders Fellowship Program brings community leaders to Cornell

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ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Cornell Public Service Center has announced the first fellows in the new Cornell Civic Leaders Fellowship Program. The program will enable four community leaders involved in economic- and community-development efforts to join the Cornell University community of scholars as both learners and teachers for an academic year.

The Cornell Civic Leaders Fellowship Program was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Consortium-Leadership for Institutional Change and the Kellogg Foundation. The grants encourage higher education institutions to build collaborative relationships with their local communities and will allow Cornell to award $5,000 to each selected civic fellow.

Applications for the program were received from Tompkins County as well as the greater Rochester and Southern Tier areas. A committee that included community and university representation selected the fellows.

The four fellows are listed below, along with the names and descriptions of their proposals.

o Michael Bleeg , Rochester -- Community Centered Living Proposal. Bleeg, a longtime community volunteer, is the former board chair of the Mount Hope Family Center, former board president for Prison Outreach Inc. and is the manager of Alexander Apartments, a six-unit residence for people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. His proposal focuses on providing transitional housing in the greater Rochester area for a varied group of residents, including those in drug and alcohol recovery or people with mental or physical disabilities. Other objectives include seeking to build collaborative relationships with program delivery agencies, government offices and neighborhood groups; recruiting volunteers for a three-year start-up period for each residence; and securing financing options for both initial and ongoing support.

o Gino Bush , Ithaca -- Community Involvement at Ithaca High School. Bush is a community activist and advocate for individuals and families in their struggles with addiction, racial discrimination and/or economic problems. He is the founder of Circle of Recovery, which is a self-help group for African-American men who are in a form of recovery. Starting in October 2000, Bush began leading support groups at Ithaca High School for male students to talk about life-skills topics, including discussions surrounding drug and alcohol education, racism, families and school. The first group began with an attendance of three, and the most recent ended in June with 15 attending weekly meetings. Bush's proposal seeks to continue to expand these support groups to reach larger audiences and possibly expand to the local middle schools. He plans to recruit Cornell students to serve as mentors or role models; to provide employment opportunities and training to young adults, and to use the fellowship as an opportunity to do research in the area of drug laws and reform.

o Carl Feuer , Ithaca --- The Working Poor in Tompkins County. Feuer has been a leader in the labor movement in Tompkins County and an integral part of the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition. He serves as the health and safety trainer of the Midstate Central Labor Council. Feuer's proposal seeks to address the need to ensure that all working people in Tompkins County be paid at least a living wage. In that pursuit, he will identify those jobs, industries or sectors that are most heavily low paying and analyze the demographics of the working poor -- who they are and how extensive or serious poverty is in the community -- to determine how wages affect people's lives and the choices they are forced to make.

o Paul Glover , Ithaca -- Survey of Community Dental Clinics. Glover is a community organizer, author and publisher who is the founder of the Ithaca Health Fund, a nonprofit health financing system, and the creator of Ithaca Hours, a regional alternative currency system. His proposal seeks to explore and summarize features of the hundreds of dental clinics serving underserved sectors throughout North America. It is hoped that this information will lead to the formation of a dental clinic in Ithaca. One-third of city of Ithaca residents do not have health insurance, and an even larger number do not have dental insurance. Glover has found that residents who are eligible for Medicaid are unable to find dentists that accept Medicaid, and he proposes that the establishment of a dental clinic in Ithaca would serve currently unmet needs.

The Cornell Civic Leaders Fellowship Program is the first of its kind in the area and was established to expand and improve university-community collaborations. For more information about the program or the Cornell Public Service Center, call (607) 255-1148 or visit the web site http://www.psc.cornell.edu .

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