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United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut Awards $25,000 to Hartford Working Cities

May.28, 2019

Nonprofit Commits to Economic Mobility in Hartford

Hartford, Conn. (May 28, 2019) — United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut has awarded $25,000 to the Hartford Working Cities initiative, which focuses on reducing unemployment among young adults in Hartford’s Barry Square, Frog Hollow and South Green neighborhoods.

For years, United Way has been a leader in developing and launching integrated programs that meet the holistic needs of families on the path toward long-term success.

Hartford’s Working Cities initiative is a focused, concentrated and urgent effort that tackles two economic challenges facing Hartford: poverty and the need for an educated workforce to attract and retain employers to the city and the region.

Using a placed-based strategy to improve employment outcomes for young adults in three contiguous Hartford neighborhoods – Barry Square, Frog Hollow and South Green – Hartford Working Cities is aligning, coordinating and scaling education and training services that are sector-based and informed by positive youth development practices. This cross-sector project seeks to engage employers, education and training providers, residents and young adults (ages 16-29).

In its first year, Hartford Working Cities has:

  • Hired a Director: Joel Rivera leads the initiative. Rivera has more than 20 years of experience in workforce development and family economic success, and lives in the target neighborhoods.
  • Established Governance: Hartford Working Cities has secured commitments from key stakeholders to participate on/in an Executive Committee, chaired by Melvyn Colón, Executive Director of Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA). Other members include:
    • Steve Balcanoff, Community Relations at CT Children’s Medical Center;
    • Angel Cotto, Young Adult Action Network Representative/Student at Capital Community College;
    • Vivi Guadarrama, Young Adult Action Network Representative/Student at UConn Downtown Hartford;
    • Jen Gifford, Vice President, Community Resources, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut;
    • Ricardo Henriquez, Workforce Solutions Collaborative Director;
    • Kim Oliver, Director of the Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation for the City of Hartford;
    • Lynn Raicik, Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership Directors at CCAT;
    • Graciela Rivera, Neighborhood Leader;
    • Yolanda Rivera, Neighborhood Leader; and
    • Pamela Tonello, Chief Program Officer Capital Workforce Partners.
  • The group also formed an Education and Training Consortium and a Young Adult Action Network:
    • The Education and Training Consortium is focusing on identifying gaps in services and programmatic challenges and opportunities. It will create a workplan that includes strategies and outcomes related to reducing unemployment among young adults from 23 percent to 10 percent.
    • Young Adult Action Network (YAAN): YAAN launched in November 2018 in partnership with Our Piece of the Pie and the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative. YAAN focuses on systems change that relates to engaging young adults in shaping the Hartford Working Cities Initiative activities and provide the opportunity for leadership development. YAAN provides a way for young adults to have a voice in planning initiatives and programs that impact them directly.
  • Launched New Career Navigator role: In partnership with the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technologies (CCAT), which serves as the intermediary for the Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership (AMEP), a career navigator has been hired to focus on young adults in the neighborhoods in which Hartford Working Cities is focusing its work.

The initiative is on track to receive its second of three years of funding from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston – which oversees the Challenge – and has maintained support from its other core funder, The Nutmeg Foundation.

About Working Cities
The Connecticut Working Cities Challenge is a grant competition that is designed to support cross-sector, collaborative leadership and ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in small and mid-size cities in Connecticut.

About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut mobilizes people and organizations to give, advocate and volunteer to promote child and youth success, ensure families are financially secure, provide access to health-related services and supports, and ensure basic needs are met.