Anna Hamilton: from graduate assistant to City Connects staff member

 As a college student at Tulane University, Anna Hamilton was trying to decide whether she wanted to study education or psychology.

“I was very interested in working with children in some capacity and early on as an undergraduate, I got involved in psychological research working in a lab where I studied prejudice and stigma,” Hamilton recalls.

Outside the lab, Hamilton worked with children, leading social-emotional skills groups at an elementary school. She also worked as an intern at a family resource center, providing trauma-informed care for children and families who were involved with Louisiana’s Department of Child and Family Services.

For Hamilton, working with children won out, and she enrolled in Boston College to earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

“I thought I was leaving the research world behind,” she says.

But in 2016, a few weeks after she started her master’s program, Hamilton started working as a graduate assistant at City Connects and stepped back into the research world.

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The Weekly Connect 1/18/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

LGBTQ+ teens and young adults say debates and state legislation on restricting transgender youth participation in school sports, among other related issues, have been hard on their mental health. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is boosting funding for school meals because of inflation and supply chain issues. 

More than 167,000 children in the U.S. have lost parents or caregivers to Covid, which is roughly 1 in every 450 young people under age 18.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Reflecting on the past and forging a brighter future

For the new year, we are reflecting on where we’ve been and looking forward to what’s ahead. Writing in our current newsletter, Mary Walsh, the Executive Director of City Connects, says:

“From all of us at City Connects, I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy new year. 2021 has been another challenging year in schools for students, for families, and for staff.”

“Despite many pandemic-related challenges, Coordinators are moving mountains to support children and families. We are implementing in an ever-expanding set of schools. City Connects is currently delivering supports, services, and enrichment opportunities to tens of thousands of students in the United States and in Ireland, and the U.S. Department of Education has featured City Connects in a number of its publications.”

This growth has happened in Massachusetts and in Indiana. City Connects has been praised in Ireland; and the Department of Education points to us as an example of an evidence-based model of integrated student support.

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The Weekly Connect 1/10/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Texting parents about their children’s attendance can reduce absenteeism. 

Omicron hinders schools’ post-holiday reopening plans. 

Michigan schools hiring hundreds of mental health staff members

To read more, click on the following links.

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Powerful community partnerships: The MassMutual Foundation

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, it’s a new year that’s full of promise; and here at City Connects, we are excited about what’s next. 

We’re growing in Indianapolis and in Massachusetts. We have a new technical assistance center based at Marian University in the Midwest, so that we can work with more schools in that part of the country. We’re hiring new staff, and we’re seeing how the City Connects model is effective, resilient, and making a difference for children, families, teachers, schools, and communities, especially during the pandemic. 

We couldn’t do this work alone, which is why we’re so grateful to our many community partners, the nonprofit organizations and businesses that work with us to support students. 

One example is the MassMutual Foundation. 

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A happy holiday story

Taylor Herring is a new City Connects Coordinator at Boston’s Ellis Mendell School, but she’s already into the full swing of the holiday season.

For Thanksgiving she worked with the United Way to secure food baskets for families in need. And the family council at her school raised funds to buy Stop and Shop gift cards that also helped families put food on their Thanksgiving tables. 

“We’re a small school. We have about 270 kids. But we were able to help around 70 families,” Herring explains. “Our principal noted that because of Covid there has been an increase in the number of families who needed resources.”

Now that Christmas is coming, Herring is in the midst of managing a toy drive.

“We created an Amazon wish list that we publicized, and we also had awesome donors who gave a lump sum of money, so we were able to fulfill the wish list and get Target gift cards that families can use to buy toys or necessities. They can also use the gift cards for other siblings in the household.”

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The Weekly Connect 12/20/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Black and Latino students are more likely to have inexperienced teachers

The Los Angeles Unified School District delays the start of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Art classes serve as an oasis for students in Washington, D.C., schools who are grappling with the effects of the pandemic. 

To read more, click on the following links.

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City Connects in Ireland: an update

In the middle of the pandemic and amidst school closures, City Connects launched a pilot program in Dublin in the fall of 2020. Today the program is running in ten schools in Dublin’s North East Inner City (NEIC), a district that was created to spark social and economic regeneration in an area that is addressing the familiar urban challenges of poverty, crime, and untapped potential. 

Earlier this month, at an event in Dublin’s Larkin Community College, where NEIC released its 2021 Progress Report, City Connects won warm recognition for its work in Ireland from the country’s Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe. 

 Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheál Martin attended the event and said of the work being done in the district, “The ability to create innovation and innovative programs to augment work already underway in this area is key to progress.”

Minister for Finance Donohoe said early in his speech, “I want to pick out three areas in the report that speak to the ambition that we have for 2022. First one which I want to recognize is the City Connects project.” (He starts speaking at the 29 minute mark in this video.)

Donohoe praised City Connects for building “community hope” and “looking at how we can put together a new way of working with all students in our schools to make sure they have the tailored support to support their needs and to develop their talents.”

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