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Area SUNY schools helping develop “sustainable” village and learning community in Haiti

By Eric Reinhardt


The State University of New York (SUNY) says 10 of its campuses and five nonprofits are working to establish a “sustainable” village and learning community in Akayè, Haiti.

Area SUNY schools participating include Upstate Medical University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and BinghamtonSUNY logo University, SUNY said in a news release.

SUNY selected each campus in the collaboration to bring “expertise in a certain specialty to the community,” according to a separate news release on the topic posted at the Upstate Medical website.

The medical school, for example, is part of the health and wellness working group, according to the news release. SUNY also chose ESF for its knowledge in landscape architecture and Binghamton University for its work in public administration, the Upstate Medical news release said.

The Battle Creek, Michigan–based W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently awarded SUNY a nearly $800,000 grant to support the project, which will develop educational, economic, and social programs, resources, and other needed services on 40 acres of land that a professor emeritus at Nassau Community College donated.


Seeing the land

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, along with H. Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY board of trustees; and Montgomery Tabron, president of the Kellogg Foundation, traveled to Haiti to survey the land where the SUNY village will be developed, according to the SUNY news release.

They also heard from the people of Akayè about how our colleges and organizations can support the health, wellbeing, and successful development of their community, Johnson said in the SUNY news release.

“SUNY’s capacity to serve communities throughout New York State and around the globe knows no bounds. Thank you to each of our campuses, which will each provide distinct expertise to the project, to our partnering organizations, and to the Kellogg Foundation. This project will provide immeasurable opportunity for those in Haiti as well as the students, faculty, staff participating from across SUNY,” said Johnson.

“It is SUNY’s honor to be able to extend our hand in friendship to the people of Akayè through our shared focus on education while providing valuable learning opportunities for students, faculty, and staff from throughout our system,” McCall said in the SUNY news release. “This project began with a generous donation of 40 acres of land in Akayè from Nassau Community College professor emeritus Carmelle Bellefleur, whose vision has led us to today’s announcement. It is an enormous point of pride for SUNY to collaborate with the people of Haiti as we establish a sustainable learning community to farm the land and provide food, build a medical center to increase health and wellness, and deliver much-needed services and economic development across many sectors.”

The five nonprofit organizations partnering on the project include African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA); Effort Commun Pour Le Developpement de L'Arcahaie (ECODA); Haiti Development Institute; Hope on a String, which says its “work is located in the Arcahaie region of Haiti,” according to its website;” and YouthBuild International, a division of Somerville, Massachusetts–based YouthBuild USA, Inc.

Founded in 1930 by breakfast-cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), is an independent, private foundation that is among the “largest” philanthropic foundations in the U.S., according to the organization’s website.

“Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive,” WKKF works with communities to “create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life,” the website says.


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