Many Rochester schools need a community partner to provide a helping hand to students not performing at grade level. Knowledgeable educators in the Rochester community have called for a significant increase in community involvement in Rochester city schools.  In August 2005, the Blue Ribbon Task Force chaired by Al Simone, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) President, issued a “Call to Arms” for 10,000 community volunteers to serve as student mentors and advisors.

In January 2008, Bill Cala, Interim RCSD Superintendent, outlined Rochester school priorities, which indicated that the short and long-term plans of the district must include partnerships, adoptions, and volunteering as critical components for student success.

Rochester has a rich history of collaboration between community organizations and the city public schools.  Today there are many community organizations providing student support services in many elementary schools in Rochester.  Some of these partnerships have been in existence for 20 years and other ones have begun recently.  Until now, the existing community partnerships have managed their programs on their own.  This decentralized model has grown up organically from grassroots community activism.  Friends of Educational Excellence has evolved to organize and provide additional services to the existing partnerships and expand their impact.

There are several gaps in the current landscape of community support: 

  • Not every school has a community partner that provides in-school volunteers
  • Within their school, current partnerships do not reach all students who need help
  • Existing partnerships can be improved to be more effective

Friends of Educational Excellence Provides In-School Academic Support for Students

In-school academic support

Other student support may also be a component of some Friends of Educational Excellence Programs

after-school programs, summer programs, weekend programs

Community volunteers support students by helping to fill the following three academic gaps:
  1) Skills Gaps   arrow pointing right Promote Student Practice
Reading, Writing, Math, etc
  2) Knowledge Gaps arrow pointing right Support Curriculum
Social Studies, Science, etc
  3) Attitude Gaps arrow pointing right Be a Positive Adult Role Model
Promote a passion for learning
Promote positive self-image


What does Friends of Educational Excellence Do?
Friends of Educational Excellence supports community – school partnerships in Rochester, NY schools to help students succeed in school and to build a stronger Rochester community:

  • Community partnerships support teachers by providing volunteers during the school day that work with students to help their learning and skills development.
  • Volunteers help elementary school students achieve the academic skills they need to be successful in school and in life.
  • Improving educational outcomes in Rochester is essential to revitalize our city.  Friends of Educational Excellence is building a stronger community to improve life in the entire Rochester area.

Friends of Educational Excellence works to make community – school partnerships more effective by:map of city schools

  • Recruiting, screening, and training more volunteers to support students
  • Helping community partners to be more effective by using successful practices
  • Supporting partner collaboration for continuous improvement
  • Developing community partnerships with more schools

What Schools Does Friends of Educational Excellence Support?
Friends of Educational Excellence has an agreement with the Rochester City School District (RCSD) to support the following ten community – school partnerships:

Has Friends of Educational Excellence been Successful in Supporting these Schools?
Yes.  Friends of Educational Excellence is helping these partnerships implement Successful Practices.  The partners collaborate in a bi-monthly FREE Coalition meeting to continuously improve their programs.  Friends of Educational Excellence has recruited hundreds of volunteers to supplement the partners’ own recruitment efforts.  These schools have over 250 volunteers who provide 880 hours of support per week!

Does it Work?    

School 2011
52 2 2
7 14 3
50 5 7
20 19 8
12 11 10
15 16 15
39 25 19
10 35 20
34 31 32
22 34 35

In a word: Yes!

In the 2011 – 2012 school year, Friends of Educational Excellence supported 10 Rochester city elementary schools that had over 500 volunteers who tutored students under the guidance of classroom teachers.  Let’s look at the 2012 New York State (NYS) English and math test results to see how these 10 schools performed.

2012 NYS English Language Arts (ELA) Results

  • 6 of 10 FREE schools improved their ranking versus the 38 Rochester elementary schools.  School 52 held its #2 ranking so 7 of 10 schools held or improve their ranking.
  • Three schools had significant improvements in their rankings:  School 7, School 20, and School 10
  • Only 4 Rochester elementary schools increased the percentage of students that passed the ELA test.  FREE schools were 3 of those 4 schools:  School 52, School 7, and School 10
  • School 52 maintained its #2 ranking!
  • The School 52 third grade had the best ELA performance of any public elementary school in Rochester

2012 NYS Math Exam Results

School 2011
52 4 3
20 8 5
7 7 6
50 9 10
12 17 16
39 20 17
15 10 20
10 29 24
34 36 29
22 38 30
  • 8 of 10 FREE schools improved their ranking
  • Three schools had significant improvements in their rankings:  School 10, School 34, and School 22
  • Seven FREE schools improved the percentage of students that passed the math test: School 10, 12, 20, 22, 34, 39, and 52
  • School 52 improved its ranking to #3!
  • The School 20 and School 52 sixth grade had the 2nd and 3rd best math performance in Rochester public elementary schools

The Friends of Educational Excellence model works!   

School 52 Rankings (out of 38 schools)
  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
ELA 8th 5th 5th 4th 2nd 2nd 2nd
Math 23rd 20th 14th 7th 4th 4th 3rd

Using this model, the School 52 rankings for English (ELA) and Math have improved dramatically since 2006.  School 52 is now #2 in ELA and #3 in math out of 38 RCSD elementary schools.  The School 52 volunteers are an integral part of the student learning environment.  Students there are on a positive path!

Other Rochester City School Community Partnerships
with In-School Volunteers

Community Partner Elementary Schools
1. Asbury Methodist     School #41
2. Celebration of Life Community School #17
3. Downtown Presbyterian & Baber AME Churches School 3
4. Jewish Community Federation Schools # 1 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 14 / 23 / 35 / 36 / 41 / 45 / 46
5. Rochester Rotary Club School #8
6. St. Mary’s Church Schools # 9 / 14
7. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church School #9
8. Third Presbyterian Church Schools # 6 / 35
9. University of Rochester  Schools # 10 / 15 / 19 / 29 / 33  

There are also many after-school programs that support Rochester city students.  Friends of Educational Excellence is a collaboration of in-school community partnerships that provide volunteers for students during the school day.  Therefore, after-school programs are not within the scope of Friends of Educational Excellence services.  Most of the after-school programs collaborate via the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance (GRASA).