Some 96 students between grades 1 and 5 will be studied as part of schoolMax at eight different Buffalo-area schools over the course of four years. While half the students in the study won't receive the schoolMAX treatment and will serve instead as a control for the research, they will be offered the chance to enroll in the summerMAX program free of charge the following summer.
The grant will help cover the costs of the programs, but will also cover the stipends and coursework for some 24 to 28 student research assistants at the institute each year, as well as the salaries of two post-doctoral research fellows, Lopata said.
"From our standpoint it really benefits a large number of people from the student level through the dissemination of research findings," Lopata said, adding that the study will put Canisius and its students ahead of the curve when it comes to the release of the study's findings.
"These type of grants are usually given to top research schools," Thomeer said. "For Canisius to get it puts us up there with the big boys."
Tammy Dodge said she's seen a drastic improvement in Richard's social skills since he first enrolled in the summerMAX program when he was 8 years old.
"One of the greatest things we've seen is him engaging in a conversation and not just a conversation wrapped around what he's interested in but what everyone else is interested in," she said. "It's so joyful to see him interested in something his sister's doing."
In addition to the lessons Richard learned during his three programs at Canisius — which Thomeer describes as having more of the atmosphere of a summer camp than something clinical — Tammy said she attended weekly meetings where she also learned ways to help Richard at home.