Partner Profiles and Success Stories

ESL Charitable Foundation and RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

Downtown Rochester is growing for the first time in 50 years, and the greater Rochester area is moving from being an economy largely driven by three major corporate players to an economy supported by universities and small businesses. RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE) aims to be a central resource for urban entrepreneurial programs and research in order to help reshape the regional economy and build wealth within the urban community. The work done by CUE aligns with ESL Charitable Foundation’s commitment to financial education and well-being for the people and businesses of Rochester. With this synergy in mind, ESL Charitable Foundation recently provided funding for CUE’s Capacity Building Program, a six-month program that helps business owners create a customized development plan, under the guidance of staff and volunteers from CUE, RIT, and partner organizations, like ESL. The Capacity Building Program offers a five step plan that involves assessing risk, building the plan, having one-on-one coaching sessions, and reporting.

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M&T Bank and Rochester City Scholars

The Rochester City Scholars Program recognizes the importance of strengthening RIT’s support and relationship with the Rochester City School District and the greater Rochester community. Financial challenges prevent more than three-quarters of Rochester City School District students from attending college; Rochester City Scholars offers free tuition to any city school graduate admitted to RIT. Since the program’s inception, more than 130 students have participated in the Rochester City Scholars Program, which includes academic and personal support. In partnership with this program, M&T Bank has established the “M&T Bank Rochester City Scholars Scholarship” which offers annual scholarships of up to $25,000 to two RIT students in the Rochester City Scholars Program. In addition, each “M&T Scholar” will be offered an internship at the bank’s regional headquarters.

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Constellation Energy and Clean Energy for Kids

Today, education on energy efficiency, conservation, new energy sources, and impacts on the environment, economy, and national security are crucial topics for K-12 teachers to understand and teach to their students, our future leaders. Since 2015, Constellation, an Exelon Company, has provided Constellation E2 Energy to Educate grants to make RIT’s “Educating K-12 Students and Teachers about Clean Energy Generation Using Fuel Cells” program possible. RIT's School of Chemistry and Materials Science and the Office of K-12 programs have developed curriculum on electricity generation using fuel cells. For high school Chemistry and Earth Science teachers, the educational program consists of training sessions on the topic of “clean energy/fuel cells for electricity generation” as well as how to teach and incorporate the material into their own curriculum. For students in grades 9-12, two one-week summer camps are held on the topic of “The Science of Fuel Cells.” A major goal of the program is to encourage the younger generation to think about what we can do to bring down the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and what ways exist to optimize the energy consumption for home usage.

Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation and RIT’s Carillon

In the fall of 2014, the old carillon bell system (also known as “the church bells”) played for its final time. The system, which was over a decade old and had a life expectancy of approximately that, broke. In the fall of the following year that students began asking for the chiming of the bells to resume. In late 2015, RIT’s Student Government began drafting a petition to Student Affairs, addressing the absence of the bells across campus and asking that the system be replaced

The installation of the new system in March of 2016 was made possible through the generosity of the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation, which has been a valued partner of RIT for more than three decades. The Interfaith Center was initially made possible through the generosity of Kilian and Caroline Schmitt, two Rochester business owners who have since passed away. The carillon system at RIT, unlike traditional systems, is entirely electronic. The new system connects to speakers around campus and can be programmed to play a variety of songs. There are no physical bells. The bell system will chime on every hour, and will toll the number of the hour, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Jim Ryan, a representative of the Schmitt Foundation, said that when RIT reached out about necessary renovations to the Interfaith Center, the board was ready to listen. “Knowing how important the interfaith chapel was to Kilian made our investment decision that much easier to authorize,” Ryan said. “We worked extensively with Jeff Herring (director of the Center for Religious Life) and others to define the renovation specifications so as to favorably impact students of all denominations. We really wanted our investment to have a universal appeal.”

Ryan said that once the repair of the carillon system was identified as a need, it did not take long for the board to agree.“Kilian Schmitt had a great interest in music and he funded a number of similar initiatives in his lifetime, from the chimes at St Mary’s church downtown to the carillon and organ at Nazareth College to the organ in the Caroline and Kilian Schmitt Organ Recital Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Music and religion were very important to the Schmitts,” Ryan said.

Precision Optical Transceivers

Precision Optical Transceivers Inc. has become the first member of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Future Photon Initiative Industry Partnerships Program.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based manufacturer is partnering with Future Photon Initiative researcher Stefan Preble, associate professor of microsystems engineering and electrical and microelectronic engineering at RIT. Preble’s Nanophotonics Group is a cornerstone of RIT’s Future Photon Initiative, one of the university’s signature research areas.

Precision Optical Transceivers is a manufacturer of optical transceivers and related active/passive optical components. The company is heavily involved with silicon photonics initiatives, particularly with low-power transceiver solutions.

“We are pleased and excited to have an opportunity to take our association with the team at Precision OT to the next-level,” said Don Figer, director of RIT’s Center for Detectors and the Future Photon Initiative. “We are committed to being a go-to technical resource and difference-maker in support of Precision OT’s enterprise plans and objectives.”

Bryce Tennant, CTO of Precision Optical Transceivers, anticipates a mutually beneficial collaboration with RIT.

“Precision Optical Transceivers continues to show support throughout the industry, community and local academia through our contribution to RIT and the Future Photon Initiative,” Tennant said. “Becoming an industry affiliate provides Precision OT the opportunity to work closely with RIT to expand and grant admission into future initiatives and to progress overall research capabilities of the silicon photonics sector.”

The Future Photon Initiative develops collaborations with commercial entities to advance photonic technology and innovations. The initiative focuses on integrated photonics, scaled electronics, photovoltaics and detectors for the commercial and government sectors, communications, energy and the healthcare and defense fields.