News Release: SUNY Poly Awarded $600K from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Continued Work to Support Community Maintenance Efforts

News Release: SUNY Poly Awarded $600K from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Continued Work to Support Community Maintenance Efforts

Monday, June 15, 2020 - 11:57

For Release:        Immediate – June 15, 2020

Contact:               Timothy W. Scee II, Public Affairs Specialist

                               (315) 792-7307 |

UTICA – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) announced today that Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Dr. Andrew Russell has received continuing funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to build upon a two-year-old pilot project, launched in collaboration with Dr. Lee Vinsel, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology & Society at Virginia Tech, and Jessica Meyerson, Director of Research & Strategy at Educopia Institute, to help communities with a variety of challenges, including workforce development and digital infrastructure maintenance.

“Through the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Dr. Russell and collaborating researchers will continue this critical work to improve communities and their services,” SUNY Poly Interim President Dr. Grace Wang said. “The wide-ranging opportunities resulting from The Maintainers’ efforts will help forge greater stability for future generations.”

The nearly $600,000 award will enable the group, The Maintainers, to expand upon its existing framework that merges academic and community-based research to make a sustainable and positive impact. It seeks to do so through broad efforts promoting goals centered on  improving critical areas of maintenance while simultaneously highlighting the strengths of SUNY Poly’s intellectual diversity.

“This award is a sign that the Sloan Foundation and the communities we serve appreciate our work and have the confidence that we’ll make an impact,” Dr. Russell said. “This award also is timely, as there is renewed awareness of the role of the ‘essential workers’ who are keeping us all safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and helping to maintain comfort in our daily lives. Thanks to Sloan’s support, SUNY Poly and our partners will continue to play leading roles in advocating for essential workers and their role in infrastructure and workforce development.”

"This grant is essential for helping us continue our work and further develop The Maintainers’ organizations. The project I am most looking forward to involves starting a conversation about maintenance in K-12 education,” Dr. Vinsel said. “The American Society of Civil Engineers gives American public schools a D+ simply because we have done such a poor job taking care of the buildings and other infrastructure that serves our educators and students. On top of that, we are now adding hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of tablet computers and other education technologies—all of which will need to be maintained. I believe we could play an important role in helping school districts get on top of these issues."

"This grant will enable The Maintainers to continue developing a framework that bridges academic and community-based research in order to support grounded resistance to ‘growth for growth's sake,’ to foster long-term thinking, and to make positive material impacts in the lives of maintainers,” Meyerson said. “With generous and ongoing support of the Sloan Foundation, the next three years will allow The Maintainers to build capacity for sponsored research projects; convening discussions among professionals in specific maintenance contexts such as K-12 education and digital systems; and hosting events to build public awareness, such as virtual roundtables and the biannual Maintainers conference. Educopia is thrilled to be a partner in this work, applying over a decade of experience cultivating collaborative communities toward organizational design, facilitation, community programming, and sustainability of The Maintainers network."


About SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly)

SUNY Poly is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica campus; thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and hundreds of corporate partners since its inception. For information visit