October 22, 2019

SUNY Empire State College Awards Seven Degrees through Erie County Department of Social Services Workforce Initiative

Longtime Partnership Helps Public Servants Advance Their Careers, Better Serve Their Communities

SUNY Empire State College awarded seven degrees this year to Erie County Department of Social Services employees as part of an ongoing workforce initiative that provides pathways to career advancement for DSS employees.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York – Oct. 22, 2019) SUNY Empire State College awarded seven degrees this year to Erie County Department of Social Services employees as part of an ongoing workforce initiative that provides pathways to career advancement for DSS employees.

The program connects DSS employees with degree programs at four SUNY institutions, including SUNY Empire. Of the program’s 14 graduates in the 2018-19 academic year, half earned a SUNY Empire degree — five earning a bachelor’s degree and two earning an associate degree. Similarly, 37 of the 71 total students who received support through the program in 2018-19 are SUNY Empire students.

In addition to degree attainment, SUNY Empire provides Erie County DSS employees with training relevant to department-wide skill sets — such as communication and customer service skills, understanding the culture of poverty, change and diversity in the workplace, and professional boundaries and decorum — as well as management and supervision, technology and computer skills, and other specialized areas as needed.

“SUNY Empire State College excels at meeting working professionals where they are and getting them where they want to go,” said SUNY Empire President Jim Malatras. “That makes us a natural fit for workforce development initiatives like the excellent program with the Erie County Department of Social Services. I offer my sincere congratulations to the seven graduates of the program this year and look forward to extending this program to more frontline civil servants around the state.”

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “The partnership with Erie County DSS and SUNY Empire State College is just one example of how we can collectively provide resources and training collaboratively through workforce development initiatives. We have an obligation to provide career advancement opportunities within our county through educational programs to help workers gain the skills they need to advance in their careers. I am proud to congratulate the graduates this year and look forward to additional opportunities to partner with SUNY Empire State College.”

“The relationship we maintain with SUNY Empire State College is one of the most synergistic collaborations of DSS staff development that I am aware of,” said Robert Frank, staff development director for Erie County DSS. “The results of this education grant have been so much more than merely sponsoring a college degree; it has been a partnership to enhance the expertise of our entire staff through on-site training, one-on-one tutoring, the use of SUNY Empire’s professional trainers, their state-of-the-art training rooms, and so much more. What makes this partnership work particularly smoothly is that SUNY Empire is uniquely suited to accommodate the schedules and learning styles of adult learners, allowing more of our staff to advance academically than if they had to attend a traditional higher education setting. The Erie County DSS, SUNY Empire education grant has been a win-win for over 20 years, not only for our employees, but ultimately for the communities we serve.”

In total, the program supported more than $136,000 in tuition, fees, and textbook expenses for employees in 2018-19. SUNY Empire has also established workforce development partnerships with other DSS offices and hopes to expand on future opportunities.

SUNY Empire recently announced a new Graduate Certificate in Public Administration, furthering its efforts to help advance the careers and skills of public servants at every level of government.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates more than 17,000 students in person, online, and through a blend of both, at more than 30 locations in New York and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s more than 1,300 faculty mentors, each student designs their own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates their schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 87,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans, and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals, and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit www.esc.edu and follow the college on social media @SUNYEmpire.