ESSEX - College For Every Student unveiled its new building at 2303 Main Street in Essex on May 10, during a dedication ceremony that evening.
The event kicked off with speeches by former CFES Scholars. Joshua Johnson, now a junior at Penn State, talked about his struggles to stay focused in high school. Johnson told attendees that he was just another kid from Harlem, with bad grades and no ambition. "When CFES came into my life, they encouraged me to get involved with the leadership team," Johnson said. "They believed in me and helped me to believe in myself."
CFES President & CEO Rick Dalton introduced former CFES Scholar Shameka Cobb as Dr. Shameka Cobb. An emotional Cobb said she would never be where she is today, if not for CFES. Cobb is a Junior at Cornell Medical School.
Pictured, from back Assemblyman Dan Stec, former Governor George Pataki, CFES Program Director Angel Acosta, Congressman Bill Owens, CFES Board Member Dreama Gentry, CFES Board Member Dean Garfield, Superintendent of Willsboro Central School Stephen Broadwell, CFES Board Member Binkley Shorts; Front Left: CFES Board Member Stan Brown, CFES Board Vice Chair James Carter, CFES Board Chair Ernie Stretton, CFES President & CEO Rick Dalton, former CFES Scholar Shameka Cobb, former CFES Scholar Joshua Johnson, and Director of U.S. Education for GE Foundation Kelli Wells.
No stranger to the North Country, Angel Acosta, 2008 Student Body President at SUNY Plattsburgh, also spoke of the impact that CFES had on his life. "To be here today is very symbolic. Ten years ago, I came into the program as a CFES Scholar and now I'm a CFES Program Director," said Acosta. "I've been able to grow right along with the organization and to see this building shows just how far we've come."
College For Every Student moved from Cornwall, Vermont, to Essex, New York, 16 months ago. In August, CFES acquired the post office building on Main Street and began a total overhaul. The newly renovated structure houses staff offices on the second floor and ground-floor commercial space. The former Essex Theatre, which operated on site until the 1960s, was razed to make room for the CFES Center, where CFES staff will conduct trainings and workshops for educators and students.
"This year alone we're helping 20,000 young people overcome insurmountable challenges to get where they are today," said CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton. "And we plan to double that number by 2020.
"Twenty thousand is a huge number, but when Rick says 40,000 that's incredible," said former New York Governor George Pataki. "I'm honored to be here today and impressed by the impact that CFES has had on our young people both locally and nationally."
"CFES opened the door for these young people," said Congressman Bill Owens, "but it's you (CFES Scholars) who chose to walk through that door. Thank you for walking through the door. You're making our country a better place."
Other speakers included Assemblyman Dan Stec, GE Foundation's Director of U.S. Education Kelli Wells, Willsboro Central School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell, CFES Vice Board Chair James Carter, and CFES Board Chair Ernie Stretton.
The activities and operations of the CFES headquarters will create more than 15 jobs and bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to service providers in the region.
"Thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen," said Dalton. "Although we've raised a good portion of the funding, we are still in the midst of our capital campaign."
At the end of the night, CFES announced that they raised $35,000 through their raffle. That money will be used for underfunded schools in the North Country. "We want to thank everyone who donated prizes, bought a ticket, sold a ticket, or just helped spread the word," said Dalton.
CFES also held an open house for the public June 14.