A $60,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) enabled CJR to provide a Work-Based After-School Program for 60 Waterbury boys and girls, ages 11 to 18, during the 2022-23 school year. The program featured concurrent seven-week sessions in culinary arts and video and media production, each accommodating 10 students, and was conducted on CJR’s Waterbury Campus, which has a small commercial kitchen and a video production lab. The program ran from 2:30 to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday during the school week and each class was designed to enhance academic, vocational and social skills, as well as to provide a practical hands-on experience in culinary arts and video and media production.
Classes began in November and concluded just before the end of the school year in June. Each student received a weekly stipend for their participation and 12 students were selected to attend CJR’s Work-Based Learning Summer Program, which began in late June and concluded on August 4.
“CJR is keenly aware of the importance of prevention and early intervention programs for young people who are struggling in the classroom or identified as being at-risk of truancy, teen pregnancy and parenthood, gang involvement, violence and other activities that can be dangerous, cause trauma or create further challenges to lifetime education and potential,” stated CJR President and CEO, Daniel Rezende.
“At CJR, we believe every young person should have the opportunity to thrive. Prevention and early intervention programs like our CHEFA-funded initiative for Waterbury students provide vital learning experiences and support at a time of day when many young people may otherwise be unsupervised and also help address educational disparities and deficits,” said Mr. Rezende.
“Over the past years, many schools, organizations and families have experienced lingering and debilitating set-backs that were precipitated by the COVID pandemic,” he said. “Trauma and stress created by the pandemic increased behavioral issues with students and heightened stress and staffing issues throughout the education community. Interruptions to basic services, including student transportation, made launching this program more challenging than we anticipated, but also increased its value to students, their families and the schools,” he noted. “Many of the students and their parents wanted to see the program continue after the seven weeks had passed, so we would consider offering longer class sessions in the future,” he said.
Mr. Rezende indicated that 12 of the students enrolled in the CHEFA After-School Program were selected to participate in CJR’s Work-Based Learning Summer Program, which operates on a similar model and helps young people maintain the gains made during the school year over the summer.
CHEFA Executive Director Jeanette W. Weldon stated, “CHEFA is proud to have partnered with CJR in making an after-school learning experience possible for young people in an under-resourced community. After-school programs address educational disparities and promote equitable learning by providing young people with the opportunity to build their academic, social and vocational skills in a safe, supportive environment,” she noted.
According to Betty Sugerman Weintraub, CHEFA Manager for Grant Programs and Philanthropic Outreach, CJR’s nonprofit grant was one of 18 awarded to organizations in 2022, with a combined total of over $1 million. “CHEFA is one of the only statewide funders in Connecticut and one of the only funders providing both capital and program grants,” she said. “For over twenty years, our grants have provided vital support to Connecticut nonprofit organizations, and have made a meaningful difference for residents of the state.”
CHEFA is a quasi-public organization that provides access to tax-exempt financing, grants and other financial assistance to educational and cultural institutions, healthcare providers, childcare providers, and other qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations. CHEFA has issued over $23.7 billion in bonds since 1965, and awarded more than $46.5 million in grants since 2002. CHEFA is a self-supporting entity, receiving no state funds or taxpayer dollars.
Founded in 1904, CJR provides the therapeutic treatment, education and support young people and families need to promote positive change and to transform their lives. The organization offers education, residential, wellness and community services at 10 campuses, residences, clinics and office sites across Connecticut. CJR also provides behavioral health and early intervention programs in nearly 30 schools in Litchfield, New Haven, Hartford and Fairfield Counties. Staffed by nearly 300 professionals, CJR services help more than 2,000 individuals and families across Connecticut annually. For more information please visit: www.cjrimpact.org.
Hedy Barton, CFRE
Chief Development Officer
550 Goshen Road, P.O. Box 161
Litchfield, CT 06759
Tel. (860) 567-9423, ext. 1252