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November 2, 2010 > New Haven news

New Haven news

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Union City Kids Zone:
Envisioning "a safety net so tight that no child can slip through," the New Haven Unified School District is partnering with several community organizations in an effort to create a Union City "Kids Zone." Working with ideas borrowed from the Harlem Children's Zone and the federal Promise Neighborhoods program, New Haven Superintendent Kari McVeigh and other community leaders are seeking to create a coalition that would provide "cradle to career" services for some of the city's most vulnerable learners.

Initial partners include the City of Union City and its Youth and Family Services and Leisure Services department, the city's Human Relations Commission, the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, Kids First, Kidango, Centro de Servicios, and Congregations Organizing for Renewal.

The effort would start in a small, defined geographical area - preliminarily designated as the neighborhood bordered by Tamarack Drive, Mission Boulevard, Decoto Road, Alvarado-Niles Road, and Sherman Drive; in other words, an approximate definition of the Decoto neighborhood. Services would address data-driven needs and include such possibilities as early intervention, family engagement, extended learning opportunities, birth-to-age-three development, aligned pre-school and professional development. As linkages are strengthened and partners made accountable, other possibilities might include health, mental health and social services, as well as family services.

At initial meetings, attendees have agreed on a number of ideas, including increased collaboration between the organizations, sharing of caseloads, the possibility of sharing facilities, and the need for professional development.

"Simply getting everyone together in the same room - to share ideas and opportunities - is paying immediate dividends," Ms. McVeigh said. "Already amazing connections have been made and partnership linkages have been strengthened."

New Haven Schools Foundation and New Haven Boosters Association Work to Help District Students:
If you've ever considered joining the New Haven Schools Foundation - which raises money for college scholarships and classroom grants and collaborates with the New Haven Boosters Association to support extra-curricular and co-curricular activities - now is the time.

The Foundation has extended a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for all donations received until November 30, up to a total of $50,000. For more than 20 years, the Foundation has provided college scholarships for New Haven graduates - up to $60,000 per year - through what has become known as its Pathways to Success program. In the past five years, the Foundation has given more than $30,000 to classroom teachers through its Innovations in Education mini-grant program, and to coaches and advisers through Project Enrichment grants for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. With state budget cuts threatening the future of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities throughout California, the Foundation began partnering with the New Haven Boosters Association last year to raise money. The Boosters sponsored a successful Race to Save Student Activities last spring, and a week long Dining to Save Student Activities promotion this fall.

The Foundation also has begun working with a new group of parents committed to raising money to help the District avoid having to further increase class sizes, another consequence of the state budget mess.

Incorporated in 1981 to provide an alternative source of funding for co-curricular programs in the District, the Foundation provided much of the initial funding for a cutting-edge technology program. Seed money from the Foundation helped start James Logan High School's nationally recognized forensics program and the school's championship marching band, and the Foundation also contributed to Logan's top-ranked athletic teams.

The Foundation will hold an informational meeting for parents and community members at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 9, at the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road. Childcare and refreshments will be available.

Information also is available on the Foundation's website (www.nhsfoundation.com) or by contacting Executive Director Barbara Aro-Valle at (510) 471-3850 or barovalle@nhsfoundation.com.

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