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CIC2020 Festival Connects to Community

For Binghamton graduates, the brightest future might be right in their backyard.

As another commencement approaches, the campus is buzzing with soon-to-be-Binghamton graduates talking excitedly about their future plans. Some have landed jobs in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Others will be starting graduate school at Princeton or taking six months off to travel through Asia. And if you listen very closely, you might hear a handful of brave souls say, “I’m staying in Binghamton.”

But that’s about to change, says Kathryn Fletcher, a Broome County native who is executive director of Catalysts for Intellectual Capital 2020 (CIC2020), a Binghamton University student group that wants to stick a plug in the region’s notorious “brain drain.” Between 1990 and 2000, the number of 18-to-34-year-olds in Broome and Tioga counties dropped by 30 percent.

CIC2020 (pronounced “kick 2020”) gets its name from its goal to keep 20 percent of Binghamton graduates in the region by the year 2020. To achieve those numbers, CIC2020 has launched an innovative outreach and education program for both Binghamton students and community members. Like all good plans, this one starts with a party.

On September 19, CIC2020 is throwing the first annual Binghamton Blowout Block Party (B3P), a riverside festival featuring student and local bands, comedy, great food and games. The idea is to bring everybody together — campus groups, community organizations, local businesses and government agencies — to have fun and break down the on-campus/off-campus divide.  

The block party idea came out of the CIC2020 Leadership Institute, a full-credit class that introduces the University’s top student leaders to the opportunities and challenges of living and working in Binghamton. The class meets for a whopping seven hours a week — four hours of off-campus excursions and three hours of class discussion, often with multiple guest speakers.  

“Right from the beginning, you’re pretty much screening for the cream of the crop,” says Fletcher, who along with her co-director, interviews course applicants for dedication, diversity and talent.

This past spring, Institute students met with the mayor’s office for a closed-door brainstorming session. From that session, each student chose a research project that would be guided by a community mentor. Fletcher’s co-director, Adam Amit, wrote a paper on the transformative power of a good block party. And the rest is history.

To find out more about CIC2020, including the exciting new Career Partnership mentoring program, check out their website or contact the program directors at cic2020@gmail.com.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08