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A working relationship

Among the 200 RIT students who constructed a “haunted hayride” for Hillside Children’s Center last October were, from left, Samuel Agbor-Tabi and Alonso Vilanueva of International House, Wendell Smith of Unity House, and Prasanna Ke of International House. (Photo courtesy Hillside Family of Agencies.)

RIT and Hillside Children's Center cemented a long-standing relationship in 1994 when RIT President Albert Simone and Hillside President and CEO Dennis Richardson created "Good Neighbors - Great Partners."

Hillside Children's Center, a member of Hillside Family of Agencies, is a not-for-profit agency providing services for families whose children have been diagnosed with mental illness, emotional disorders, and/or behavioral or other challenges. Hundreds of RIT students have volunteered at Hillside, helping out with special events, reading to young children in Hillside's emergency shelter, tutoring, and participating in many other ways.

"Our partnership with Hillside provides our students with the opportunity to share what they've learned in their education as well as what they have to offer as community members," says RIT President Albert Simone.

"This is such an important relationship for us," says Dennis Richardson, president and CEO of Hillside Family of Agencies. Helping hands are always needed, but even more important, "RIT students are positive role models for the Hillside youngsters."

Two years ago, the university joined the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HW-SC). RIT provides scholarships to students who complete the HW-SC program in the Rochester City School District and are accepted for admission to RIT.

Such programs show families that there is a way for their children to reach their dreams, Richardson says. "We can only do this because we have RIT as a partner."