‘It’s a fantastic space’: RIT K-12 University Center heads downtown

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Institute of Technology is expanding its reach to downtown Rochester. It’s in the process of moving a K-12 University Center to Franklin Street by the Liberty Pole.

“RIT really wanted to have a bigger presence downtown,” said Executive Director Donna Burnette. “So we had the opportunity, and we had the need, that aligned.”

Burnette said the K-12 University is all about bringing educational opportunities to youth, using RIT’s resources, faculty and staff. They offer research classes, shadowing, mentoring, test preparation, summer programs and more.

“What that means is we facilitate in-school programs, we facilitate summer camps, we run Saturday programs, all sorts of campus experiences that we host. There’s a lot that we do,” she said.

Those who run K-12 University Center are super excited to be expanding their reach. They say the old location in Henrietta had some barriers. Now, those are lifted.

The university used to be housed in a trailer. About two years ago, the university learned it would have to move, after RIT announced plans to turn it into a new research building.

The dream, has always been to move downtown.

Burnette said the new building will be more accessible. It’s closer to bus routes, and schools.

The new building will staff about 23 full-time employees, and 10 student employees, serving about 5,000 youth per year.

Families don’t have to pay, because programs are state funded.

“We have a lot of community partners, already in place, whether in the Rochester City School District, in the charter schools, or various youth organizations,” said Burnette.

Whether programs are held in a trailer, a school or the new space; the goal is the same. It’s all about connecting youth to new experiences, that could launch their career someday.

“Why youth in the city of rochester? I think it’s a question of all youth,” said Burnette. “So we want to make sure that no talent is left on the table. We all know that our kids can’t dream it if they can’t see it. So we’re here to show them what is possible and to believe in them. And then we’re going to hold open that door of opportunity and watch them walk right through.”

Some of the larger programs connect students with classes in the area of science, technology, engineering and math. Their Liberty Partnership Program helps maximize the transition to college for students at risk of dropping out.

Learn more here.