Manlius La Rae Martin-Coore is more than an example for the girls of Fayetteville-Manlius High School’s A Better Chance program.
“I’m like a living blueprint of what they’re trying to do,” said Martin-Coore, who came on as the girls’ resident director this fall. A Better Chance is a national, non-profit, academic talent search organization that seeks to increase the number of well-educated young people of color ready to assume positions of responsibility and leadership. F-M’s program, which is community funded, is one of two in the state and was started in 1974.
The seven girls live in a 200-year-old house in the village of Manlius with Martin-Coore and her husband, Zaire, and their son, Jalen, 9, who attends Enders Road Elementary.
“I’m here with my husband and my son, so we’re showing them the family atmosphere,” she said.
Martin-Coore also works as the academic coordinator for Le Moyne College’s Upward Bound program, which, like F-M ABC, is aimed at preparing high school students for college and beyond.
“I’ve been working with students for over 15 years,” she said. “It’s a calling and it’s a passion of mine to see high school students, and especially girls, succeed, and I like the fact that I can be an example of what they are trying to do.”
Martin-Coore, a Syracuse native, went to Nottingham High School before earning her bachelor’s degree from Oswego State University and a master’s from Le Moyne. She said she was fortunate to come from a home where not going to college wasn’t an option.
“I had family who set the bar,” she said. “‘You have to go to college.’ I’ve always heard that, I’ve always known that.”
She said the girls in the program — many of which come from neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn — are often first generation college students, so they might need that extra push.