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Buffalo State Professors Receive Tubman Spirit Award

Posted: March 4, 2005
On March 10, 2005 Dr. Elizabeth Cappella and Dr. Geraldine Bard will be presented with the New York State Governor’s Harriet Tubman Spirit award at the NYS Museum. The awards, presented in honor of Harriet Tubman, known as one of our greatest female leaders, changed lives, perceptions and opened the door to success for others through her steadfast courage and strength of spirit.

This award pays tribute to individuals whose accomplishments depict the spirit of Harriet Tubman who was truly an American hero and a champion of freedom. It recognizes those who have made significant accomplishments in all areas and who have laid the foundation for present and future leasers in the battle for human rights.

Each year twelve individual women whose tireless efforts, unique talents and abundant artistry have contributed significantly to the culture and well being of our State. The recipients will be recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture in human rights; whether it is in the field of health, the arts, criminal justice, literacy, media or family. The primary criterion in the selection process is a pioneering spirit of excellence.

Dr. Bard and Dr. Cappella are being honored for their contributions in promoting family literacy through their creation Project FLIGHT. For more than a quarter century, Dr. Bard and Dr. Cappella have been the creative and driving force behind innovative programs that work to alleviate the incidence of poverty, illiteracy, and domestic violence in the lives of children. Applying their scholarly and research interests to major issues of public concern and consequential social problems, Bard and Cappella consistently inspire their students in efforts to improve societal welfare and promote social justice.

Considered a community jewel, Project FLIGHT is a multimillion-dollar family literally project for which Bard and Cappella serve as co-directors. Project FLIGHT, a unique family literacy program, is waging a worldwide war on the problem that affects more than just the ability to read. Project FLIGHT has been raising community awareness so that women can significantly overcome the problem of illiteracy through education. In a few short years, Project FLIGHT has evolved from a small pilot program, to one that was presented at the NGO Forum of the Fourth World Conference on Women for the United Nations in 1995. It works collaboratively with practitioners, schools, community organizations, and businesses locally, statewide, nationally and internationally to achieve its objectives.

Dr. Cappella is Chair and Distinguished Professor of Educational Foundations at Buffalo State College as well as Co-Director of Project FLIGHT: a Family Literacy Program. Dr. Cappella can make dreams come true for people who don’t think they have any. She has opened doors around the world by introducing literacy programs such as Project FLIGHT and has enriched the lives of thousands with Books for Kids. Cappella has served as an appointed New York State Commissioner for National and Community Service since 1997. President Clinton, Governor Pataki and former Governor Cuomo have honored her for her pioneer work on the behalf of children and their families.

Dr. Bard, an English professor at Buffalo State College since 1973 and Co-Director of Project FLIGHT, was an official NGO delegate to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women. Bard’s love for teaching and English led her deep into the heart of Canada to study the Algonquian language while she was a teacher with the Peace Corps. Her many awards include the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, The Buffalo News Citizen of the Year Award, the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, JC Penney National Volunteer Educator Award, and the United Way Award for Outstanding Labor Volunteer and the YWCA Leadership Award.

Since its inception in 1993, Project FLIGHT has distributed over a million books that go directly into the hands of needy children, procured over $23 million of grant and in kind donations, and has promoted literacy in hundreds of schools and hundreds of agencies throughout the Western New York area. It has produced five books and is recognized around the world for its promotion of family literacy.
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