From the archives: Our community partners

City Connects Coordinators and our community partners work together to create wonderful opportunities for students. Here’s a roundup of past blog posts about their work.

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Dayton Flight: a community partnership that connects students to African-American men
City Connects Blog, October 27, 2022

Keisha Anderson is working to engage more African-American men and bring them into her school.

“I want to open school spaces to dads, uncles, male mentors, pastors, barbers, whoever has a positive male influence in students’ lives. I am opening doors so they can come into our building.”

Anderson is the City Connects Coordinator at Belle Haven Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, and although she’s excited about having mothers, aunts, and female mentors in her school, she says that these women already show up. Teachers are already comfortable reaching out to mothers. And there are already a number of programs that focus on girls.

To be inclusive and focus on boys, Anderson reached out and formed a community partnership with Dayton Flight, a professional basketball team.

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A book drive thrives, thanks to a community partnership
City Connects Blog, June 10, 2022

Before COVID-19, the MassMutual Federal Credit Union used to hold its book drives the old-fashioned way: put a big box in the hallway outside the credit union’s office to collect new and gently used children’s books from the 6,000 or so people who passed by each day.

The approach worked in part because the credit union’s office had a highly visible location right next to the cafeteria. The results were mostly good, lots of books for young children that were passed on to City Connects Coordinators in the Springfield Public School system — and a few very old dictionaries that could serve as doorstops.

Once Covid hit, however, Samantha Barnes, the credit union’s Marketing Specialist, had to adapt and so did City Connects Coordinator, Stephanie Sanabria. What they ended up with was a better book drive that more closely meets the needs of students and schools.

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A creative solution for providing mental health care in Salem
City Connects Blog, February 16, 2023

Currently, there is a massive mental health crisis among students. The need is so pressing that President Biden called for increasing mental health services in schools during his recent State of the Union address. 

Students who are referred for counseling often end up having their names put on long waiting lists, which was the case in Salem, Mass.

“A lot of the community partners that we would typically go to have waitlists that are weeks or sometimes months long,” Mia Riccio, Salem’s City Connects Program Manager, says. “The access just isn’t there. It’s especially hard for families who are under- or uninsured.”

To meet this need, Salem’s City Connects program is working with community partners to offer help more quickly by providing tele-mental health services. 

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City Connects in the News
City Connects Blog, September 22, 2022

“Five Springfield schools receive sporting equipment”
WWLP 22 News: “Students at Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield were greeted with a special surprise Thursday morning, new sports equipment.

“ ‘We have a lot of fun. I think we have more fun than the kids. They get excited, you can see it in their faces,’ said Gary Delisle of Springfield Together.

“Springfield Together is a local organization [that]… received a grant through Dick’s Sporting Goods, to donate new gear to local schools. Forest Park C3 officers were also involved and helped greet the students as well as Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.”

“City Connects Coordinators represented the five participating Springfield schools. Imani McCoy is the coordinator for [the] Alice B. Beal [school], and she explained the importance of donation, ‘we were able to purchase sneakers for students who are in need because sometimes they come to school with shoes that are not appropriate for the gym. We got water coolers, and a few basketballs. We’re just excited the students will have the tools they need to further their physical education.’ ”

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