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Waterbury youth effort gets national recognition

Based on the work of Bridge to Success, Waterbury’s collaborative effort to coor­dinate and improve chil­dren and youth development efforts, Waterbury has been named one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and ING, a global financial services company. Waterbury was named one of the 100 Best because of the comprehensive plan, Bridge to Success — Preparing Waterbury Youth for Life: A Birth to 21 Initiative, developed by stake­holders from all sec­tors in Waterbury Bridge to Success is a merger of two com­munity efforts: a plan­ning group that developed a childhood blueprint for children ages birth-8 and the Water­bury Prevention Policy Board that worked on issues facing youth ages 5-18. Waterbury is the only city in Con­necticut that has one plan addressing the needs of children and youth from birth to 21.

Initial funding for the childhood blueprint was provided by the Con­necticut Community Foundation, Unit­ed Way of Greater Waterbury, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and the state Department of Education.

Bridge to Success has now created five focus areas, each with a commit­tee of parent, school and youth non­profit representatives. Family Engagement is supporting families, especially in these difficult economic times, through the creation of Neigh­borhood Family Hubs.

With the assistance of Connecticut Community Foundation, Catholic Family Charities has opened a Family Center in Waterbury that helped over 1,700 individuals learn about federal, state and local community resources for which they were eligible including child care, food stamps and health care.

Child Health & Development is as­sisting in the implementation of a new ChildFirst project in Waterbury that provides home-based intervention and support for at risk children and fami­lies.

Early Care & Education focuses on access to high quality early education for all children.

Under Positive Youth Development, Bridge to Success has surveyed the as­sets of sixth-, ninth­and 12th-graders in Waterbury in such areas as family sup­port, community service, constructive use of time and com­mitment to learning. Staff at youth or­ganizations are being trained to develop these assets among our youth
.

Workforce Development is concen­trating on linking potential employers with summer and after school youth employment programs.


With the framework now in place, Bridge to Success expects to make great strides in developing its projects and bringing new resources to the city. Already Bridge to Success has brought in $5.2 million primarily for after­school programs since 2007. Over 200 Waterbury residents who were sur­veyed listed programs for out-of­school time as the biggest issue that needed to be addressed for youth in Waterbury.

For more information on Bridge to Success, call 203-574-0040 or email di­rector@waterburybridgetosuccess.org Ingrid Manning is the chief execu­tive officer of Connecticut Community Foundation. She can be reached at (203)753-1315 or at info@conncf.org

Copyright (c) 2010 Republican-American 11/03/2010

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