The College of Staten Island (CSI) today received a $75,000 grant from the Richmond County Savings Foundation to establish a new community service learning partnership and revitalize other core services fundamental to the College’s mission.

CSI’s Center for Developmental Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities (CDNDD) received $45,000 to establish training fellowships for undergraduate students to become acquainted with the profession of Physician Assistant (PA), specializing in treating individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, while the College’s Center for the Arts received $25,000 to further develop and expand its presentation series, and the Office of Continuing Education received $5,000 for curriculum design of an ESL bridge-to-vocational-training program.

In an effort to expand outreach commitment to the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families and their communities, CDNDD will collaborate with its long-time partner and neighbor, the Institute for Basic Research (IBR) on Forest Hill Road. The long-term goal of the CSI program is to establish statewide community partnerships with government and non-profit service providers to assist students in pursuing this career path.

Students applying for fellowships under this program will be drawn from broad and diverse backgrounds, and will take part in the training as part of a paid summer internship under the direction of Robert L. Freedland, PhD, director of the CDNDD and Jeffrey Rothman, EdD, PT, chair of the Physical Therapy Department at the College of Staten Island. Selection into the program will be based on commitment to additional field training rotations with select service providers while in school.

“Through the support of the Richmond County Savings Foundation, students will have an opportunity to work directly with the community and will broaden their understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Freedland. “We are grateful to the Foundation for their vision in establishing this groundbreaking initiative.”

“Training health care professionals in treating people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities is important and desperately needed. With this grant, students desiring to become physician assistants will learn firsthand the challenges and the special skills that are necessary when providing adequate health care. PAs who receive this specialized training will ultimately improve the quality of health care for people with developmental disabilities,” said Henry J. Kennedy, Esq., Parent Advocate, and member of the IBR Research Advisory Board of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).

“I look forward to OMRDD and other state agencies expanding this program as we continue in our commitment to providing first-class health care services to people with disabilities,” Kennedy added.

“CSI is proud of its outreach and commitment to the needs of people with developmental disabilities, their families, and their communities,” said CSI President Tomás Morales. “This initiative will allow us to establish new training fellowships and community partnerships, and our students will gain an appreciation and sensitivity to the needs of this underserved community while stimulating a strong desire to incorporate a sense of service in their future professional careers.”

“I am also exceptionally proud of our faculty members for coordinating this initiative, and for taking on these added responsibilities without compensation,” Morales added, noting that the project would not have been possible without critical funding from the Richmond County Savings Foundation.

“We salute the faculty of the College of Staten Island as they continue to provide students with exceptional educational and career opportunities for success. The Staten Island community will benefit from these initiatives and the Richmond County Savings Foundation is honored to fund on the College’s behalf,” said Cesar Claro, Executive Director of the Richmond County Savings Foundation.

The initiative will also facilitate conferences and videoconference-based colloquium series across multiple sites. Access by educational programs and clinics throughout the state would meet through this facility, providing additional opportunities to spread this initiative to a larger community.

“Individuals with developmental disabilities have special needs when it comes to care,” said OMRDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter. “Having someone who really knows the issues and concerns these individuals and their families have enables them to lead richer, healthier lives. I know this initiative will inspire our next generation of health professionals to provide informed, dedicated service to individuals with developmental disabilities.”

For more information contact the College of Staten Island’s Center for Developmental Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities (CDNDD) at 718.982.3950.

Richmond County Savings Foundation awards CSI $75K