United by service, alumnus and student design school spaces to drive exellence
As the Government Relations and Corporate Volunteer Manager for Publicolor, Bill Colona US'04 has an interesting job, bringing people together to counteract declining graduation rates in inner-city public schools through a continuum of design-based programs. Earlier this spring, this type of unique service brought him together with his alma mater through fellow Gael Chase Johnson US'18.
Unique to Publicolor—and central to its mission—is the beautification and revitalization of public schools, under-resourced community facilities, and neglected school playgrounds through the power of color and design, the affordable medium of paint, and strong community collaborations.
Some 99 percent of students in Publicolor's programs self-identify as Black, Hispanic, or Asian. In New York City, students within that demographic graduate at a rate of 63 percent, versus Publicolor students who are graduating at a rate of 97 percent. Of the latter, 94 percent of Publicolor students are accepted and enrolled in college, versus 51 percent nationwide with similar socio-economic backgrounds.
While working at Claremont International High School in the Bronx in March, one of Colona's corporate volunteers brought her son, Johnson, to spend the day and assist with the project.
"I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Chase is a student at Iona," Colona said of the connection. "He was outgoing, engaged, and worked the entire six hours he was with us. Chase was an excellent ambassador of Iona Prep."
In November 2014, Publicolor was awarded the prestigious National Arts+Humanities Youth Program Award at The White House in recognition of its creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment.