Vincentian Institute for Social Action Research: The Advantage Academy
Richard Sinatra, The School of Education, Department of Human Services and Counseling; Melissa Lanctot, Assistant Director of Outcomes Assessment; Graduate Assistants: Mary Russell and Brooke Guttenberg
The Advantage Academy is an innovative, higher-education program initiated through the Vincentian Institute (VISA) to assist its partner, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), transition homeless adults from poverty and agency reliance to self sufficiency. DHS provides services to roughly 10,000 families and 40,000 individuals across the NYC five boroughs. Through the College of Professional Studies, Academy students earn a 60-credit AS Degree in Business. St. John’s provides tuition, textbooks, laptops, tutoring, counseling, and career services. DHS provides subsidized housing, transportation, and child care support.
For Cohort I students began in the summer of 2009, ten university administrators, 12 professors, 2 graduate assistants and 18 undergraduate Scholars performing 600 service hours provided leadership, mentoring, teaching, tutoring, and peer support. Formative evaluations revealed strong significant correlations between semester grades and course attendance and tutoring frequency. Program completers earned a mean GPA of 2.97 and increased in reading and math ability as measured by the Accuplacer tests. Additionally, summative results from two efficacy scales revealed that on 20 items, adults’ perceptions of themselves between pre/post programming indicated significant positive changes in character and academic beliefs. Out of the initial May 2011 graduating class, six Academy graduates have found full-time employment, four have been accepted into four-year BS programs, and one is working with the career counselor to seek employment. Most notably, two students from Cohort 1 have secured managerial positions at national chain stores. Cohort 2 students are also evaluated by formative and summative means. Cohort 2 began with 38 students in the Fall of 2010 and will graduate 25 students in May 2012 and be evaluated by formative and summative evaluation. Cohort 3 will begin in the Fall 2012 with 45 applicants out of 143 applications from 4 of the 5 boroughs (not Staten Island).