Twenty-five New York state colleges are sponsoring 31 primary and secondary schools to create one of the nation’s largest Women’s History Month collaborations. The program, titled “The Women’s Empowerment Draft,” uses a pro-sports theme to build enthusiasm for historic icons, specifically those with New York state schools named for them.
“The Women’s Empowerment Draft” is a program of Alfred University’s “Art Force 5.” It was founded in 2020 to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Each day in March, a different school and partnering college will be challenged to pay tribute to the women they drafted.
Dan Napolitano, program director and associate dean at SUNY’s New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, said, “This program demonstrates the power of collaboration between NYS colleges, K-12 schools, and hopefully professional sports organizations.”
Niagara Street Elementary School will join the draft to honor Bloneva Bond, the first Black woman elected to the Niagara Falls School Board, and past president of the Niagara Falls Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Niagara Street School is sponsored by Niagara County Community College (NCCC). Both will pay tribute to Bond on March 29 using the hashtag #WEdraft2022 on their social media pages. In addition, a Bond mosaic will be unveiled at NCCC’s dining commons at 4 p.m. March 29. To culminate the celebration, as of Sept. 1, Niagara Street School will be renamed Bloneva Bond Primary School.
“School naming is the highest honor the Niagara Falls City School District offers, and I’m excited that we have selected such a deserving individual,” NFCSD Board President Russell Petrozzi said. “Bloneva Bond’s legacy is an exceptional example for our students to follow, demonstrating the importance of serving one’s community and supporting the education of our youth.”
The 31 names featured include well-known heroes such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt, plus lesser-known trailblazers such as pioneer Lady Deborah Moody, lawyer Jill Chaifetz, and Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins. For more information, visit www.artforce5.com/wedraft.