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Local Action Project

The PA is proud to be the very first community college local to receive a Local Action Project grant from NYSUT. NYSUT's Local Action Project (LAP) is the statewide union's coalition building and community outreach initiative. We began drafting a LAP grant proposal in October 2001 and were accepted in Spring 2002.

We completed the three-year grant program in 2004, which featured a graduation presentation at the annual LAP Conference. Looking back at our 2002, 2003, and 2004 activities, we feel that our LAP participation has been successful, we fully intend to continue our LAP initiatives, and we will continue growing our union! Here is a review of our three years in LAP. Our LAP photo album is available in the Events & Photos section of our website.

Local Action Project Year One: 2002-2003

LAP Team - Year 1

  • Local Action Project Conference 2002

Upon learning of our acceptance into the LAP program, President Searles assembled a group to serve as the LAP team. As shown in the picture at left, in the front row are Cynthia Villanti, Ellis Gage Searles, Beverly Quist, and Gene Militello, as well as in the back row Jim Henck (our NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist) and Mike Donaruma.

The LAP team attended the week-long LAP Conference at Roaring Brook in Lake George. During the conference, the team learned strategies for strengthening member participation, welcoming new members, and building community support and political action (see "PA becomes first NYSUT community college to receive Local Action Project grant" in PAnorama Sept. 2002). The team also developed a budget for their first year grant and drafted a plan for local initiatives.

LAP Kickoff - Monster Mash
  • LAP Kickoff Event

    Halloween-themed "Monster Mash" party ~ The event was decidedly celebratory, with a party in Payne Hall, to introduce our Local Action Project. The LAP team sponsored a best-costume contest and informed members about the Local Action Project.

Blue PA Polo Shirts
  • LAP Membership Survey

    To gain a better sense of the current involvement and ideas for future activities of our membership, our LAP team devised a Membership Survey. We made the survey available to members both in paper and online. As an incentive, upon completion of the survey, members were given a new blue PA polo shirt, like the one modeled at left by Marie Czarnecki.

    A table summary of the complete survey results is available here: 2002 PA Membership Survey. Refer to the original survey questions to make sense of most responses.

Gift Keychains for Students

Ellis with Graduate

  • LAP at MVCC Commencement

After reviewing the results of our Fall 2002 LAP Membership Survey, it became clear that our members wanted us to do more to recognize MVCC students. So we developed the idea to present a small keepsake gift to each MVCC student who participates in MVCC's Commencement ceremony. As shown at left, coin-style, bronze tone metal keyrings were designed to show the PA logo and motto on one side and the words "MVCC Graduate" encircled by "The Faculty and Professional Staff Congratulate You" on the other.

At Commencement, President Searles is on stage to congratulate each graduate and present this keepsake on behalf of the membership. (In the photo at left, Ellis presents a keychain to 2003 graduate Janna Strong, daughter of PA member Cathy Hardy.) The MVCC Commencement program also contains a letter of congratulations from the PA Executive Board on behalf of the faculty and professional staff of Mohawk Valley Community College.

Local Action Project Year Two: 2003-2004
LAP Team - Year 1
  • Local Action Project Conference 2003

In year two, the team attended a week-long LAP Conference at Jiminy Peak. As shown in the picture at left, the LAP team attendees included Beverly Quist, Ellis Gage Searles, Gene Militello, and Cynthia Villanti. Our fifth LAP team leader, Mike Donaruma, was unable to attend. Not shown is our NYSUT Labor Relations Specialist, Jim Henck.

During the conference, the team learned more strategies for political outreach, community outreach, and internal & external communications. The team utilized a great deal of time reviewing their goals, refining their budget, and developing more initiatives.

Gene Militello shows vehicle signs

PA Mousepads

  • Identity & Recognition Initiatives

    In addition to covering our members in our bright bold blue PA polo shirts, the team decided to invest in a number of items to further develop recognition of the PA.

    To enhance external recognition, they invested in a banner and magnetic vehicle signs as well as pens for distribution to students and parents during Summer Orientation and Registration Week.

    To further enhance internal recognition, they utilized the LAP Communication Centers (bulletin boards) in three campus buildings, distributed more PA shirts (both white tee shirts and the new blue PA polo shirts), and gave a mousepad to all members at the annual January luncheon.

    Other identity/logo items included lapel pins, picket signs, and stationery (letterhead, envelopes, and notecards). Finally, because the PA had negotiated for a new Benefits Trust Fund in the last contract, they helped develop a new logo for that as well.

Legisletter - Spring 2004
  • Political Outreach

    During the second year of the LAP grant, the team leaders made great strides in improving their political outreach initiatives. These included conducting screenings for Oneida County Board of Legislators candidates and placing an advertisement in the New York Teacher as well as stepping up the local's VOTE-COPE campaign.

    The team also expanded the PA's successful Educators Meet Legislators project by creating a special edition of our newsletter, PAnorama, for the Oneida County Board of Legislators. They titled the full-color, glossy newsletter the Legisletter, and it was a great success in educating our legislators about the good work that the PA does in terms of political outreach, community outreach, and student outreach.

  • Statewide Recognition & New LAP Team Leaders

    Our first year & a half of LAP work was featured in the March 26, 2003, New York Teacher article: "Faculty union steps up community activism." Our LAP projects were also highlighted in the December 3, 2003, New York Teacher article titled "Faculty union forges its identity."

    Aware that they had completed their second year and were about to embark on their third and final year, the LAP team reached out to involve more members. The talents, intelligence, and energy of Alison Doughtie, Steve Getchell, and George Zook will surely keep the PA's LAP efforts growing.

Local Action Project Year Three: 2004 and onward...
Alison Doughtie & Gene Militello
  • Local Action Project Conference 2004

In year three, the team attended their final week-long LAP Conference--this time, at Fort William Henry in Lake George. Team leaders in attendance included Ellis Gage Searles, Mike Donaruma, Alison Doughtie, Steve Getchell, Gene Militello, and Cynthia Villanti. In the photo at left, Alison and Gene participate in a team brainstorming session.

Salvation Army rep thanks PA

Fall 2003 Endorsements Ad

  • Ongoing LAP Activities

    The LAP team spent a good deal of their final LAP Conference by assessing their work and discussing plans for the future. They agreed that they would do the following:

    • Continue their current LAP activities by funding them locally.
    • Finalize and conduct their community survey with the help of NYSUT's polling center.
    • Implement a new Member-Initiated Community Outreach Sponsorship program as a way to further increase participation in Community Outreach activities.
    • Expand the PA's Political Outreach activities, such as with candidate screenings, ongoing lobbying efforts, working with the Oneida County Board of Legislators, and educating the membership about all of the above.
    • Improve the PA's internal and external communication efforts, such as by submitting articles to the Utica Observer-Dispatch and other area papers.

PA Committee Structure

Elections Ballot 2004

  • Increasing Member Involvement

    Another major goal of ongoing LAP efforts is to continue increasing member involvement through the extensive PA committee structure. Just prior to President Searles' first election as President, the PA had revised its Constitution and By-laws to increase regular and active participation in the local, as represented in the graphic at left. In addition to the standing committees shown in the graphic, the PA has a number of ad hoc committees that add to the active participation of members, such as the Member Support & Recognition Committee, the Technology Committee, and the Audit Committee.

    With the committees, the Executive Board, the Benefits Fund trustees, and our Area Reps, then, the PA has about 80 regularly participating members in a local of approximately 215. A continuing goal of the LAP team, then is to keep these members actively participating in the PA, encouraging the involvement of other members, and keeping our annual elections ballot as full as the one depicted at left.

Little CC Local That Could

LAP Graduation Display

  • The LAP Graduation Presentation

At the final LAP Conference, each third-year local offers a graduation presentation and sets up a display of their LAP initiatives. This enables first- and second-year locals to learn from the successes and challenges of the more experienced LAP teams.

The PA team presented a graduation skit that compared their LAP experiences with that of the typical community college student. Titled "The Little Community College Local That Could," their presentation compared their application for the LAP grant to applying for financial aid and demonstrated how their first year of LAP was similar to the experiences of a first-semester community college student (eg, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain yet excited). They acted out scenes from their years in LAP that parelleled how community college students often grow more confident and eager to learn as the semesters pass, learning to manage their time while working hard and playing hard, and finally coming to realize that education is a lifelong project.

The PA team also created a display, shown at left, filled with their logo/identity items as well as with samples to represent their community outreach activities (such as a Ted Moore Run/Walk poster identifying the PA as a major sponsor and photos from recent events), political outreach initiatives (such as a copy of our Legisletter as well as our picket signs and banners), as well as a laptop showing the PA website and a video showing our Educators Meet Legislators presentations.

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