SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) Le Moyne College is getting help from New York State in the form of a $2-million grant to help launch ERIE 21.
The program is an initiative spearheaded by Le Moyne College partnering with state, city and county government, the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), private high-tech firms and banks.
For the past two summers Le Moyne has been piloting the program by inviting dozens of middle schoolers from Syracuse to campus for “coding villages”. Most of the days were spent in various exercises with math at the core.
Bill Brower is the Vice President of Communications and Advancement at Le Moyne College and one of architects for Erie 21.
“Through this program we give them a little taste of what their futures can be,” Brower tells NewsChannel 9.
The goal was to spark foundational skills so highly sought by many businesses these days that are struggling to find talent and at the same time dealing with concentrated poverty in Syracuse.
“And we came up with a pathway, we started to call it a pathway that we thought could help people with challenges gain the skills over time to be qualified for these middle, upper middle class jobs,” Brower says.
The goal of ERIE 21 (which stands for Educating for Our Rising Innovation Economy in the 21st century) is to create infrastructure to support people preparing for jobs in the innovation economy.
Brower says, “I think traditional economic development talks about how many jobs are you going to create. And what we’re talking about is how many employees can be created when really good partners come together.”
Much the way the Erie Canal helped transform the region’s economy in the early 19th century, ERIE 21 Brower says can be nearly as impactful here in the 21st century.
ERIE 21 would feature four virtual “locks” that will serve to help people in their journey to become part of the innovation economy.
Lock 1 – Support the SCSD in programming and activities (including the summer coding villages) for rising 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.
Lock 2 – Improve graduation rates by focusing on students in grades 9 to 12 by building upon the highly successful academic support programs now operated by Le Moyne in partnership the State of New York and the U.S. Department of Education, such as the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), Upward Bound and the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP).
Lock 3 – Launch a new academic program at Le Moyne in Software Systems Science that would benefit area businesses looking for employees with strong competencies in computational reasoning and coding.
Brower says Le Moyne College is willing to invite industry to campus to work on curriculum.
“What do you need so when our graduates walk across the stage at commencement we want them to be ready to come work for you,” he says.
Lock 4 – Develop training and educational services needed by adult workers transitioning between jobs, veterans, those experiencing long-term unemployment, immigrants, and others seeking to either access the jobs of the innovation economy or move to more highly skilled jobs within the information/technology sector.
According to Le Moyne College an estimate by the Incentis Group, the total direct, indirect and induced economic impact of ERIE 21 upon Onondaga County from 2021 to 2030 would be nearly $1.8 billion in economic activity, roughly 2,000 jobs, and $645 million of labor income.