CCMC to administer $30 million federal grant to establish ‘cradle to career pipeline’ aimed at break

September 27, 2021 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Hartford

A $30 million federal grant aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Hartford’s North End will go towards improving the education and wellbeing of nearly 600 children in three North Hartford neighborhoods, city and state officials announced Monday.

Administered by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, the money from the federal Promise Neighborhoods program will go towards creating the North Hartford Ascend Pipeline — an initiative intended to benefit about 575 families in the North Hartford Promise Zone by creating and expanding support programs from prenatal care to career readiness.

Designated by the Obama administration in 2015, the zone of about 3 square miles includes the Clay Arsenal, Northeast, and Upper Albany neighborhoods. Families, who will have input into the pipeline’s directives, is selected according to need.

The $30 million grant — $6 million of which will be released each year for the next five years — is part of a larger $66 million effort. The additional $36 million will be contributed by community partners in kind, including Connecticut Children’s, Hartford Public Schools and United Way, said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin during a press conference Monday at the Parker Memorial Community Center.

Bronin said seven cities across the U.S. were selected for funding this year through the federal Promise Neighborhoods program, which seeks to “significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in our most distressed communities,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Hartford applied for the grant twice before but did not win it, said the mayor, so this year he asked Dr. Paul Dworkin, Connecticut Children’s executive vice president for Community Child Health, to lead the application process.

“We did that because Connecticut Children’s has an immense amount of knowledge and expertise in supporting young people, coordinating services for young people, identifying needs early and bringing partners together to support children,” Bronin said.

Dworkin described the pipeline as a “comprehensive, integrated approach” to building a system focused on meeting families’ priorities and needs with the long-term purpose of improving children’s academic, mental health and occupational outcomes.

Acknowledging the fatal shooting of Weaver High School freshman Waldemar Santiago, 16, in the North End Sunday night, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke about the importance of using the grant to also address gun violence and domestic violence in Hartford.

“We need to be brutally realistic here,” said Blumenthal.

Bronin agreed, adding: “Many folks around the room who do this work often come back to the same place ... which is: ‘If only we could identify those young people earlier, identify the support that they need earlier, and bring all the resources that are out there to bear to support that young person earlier ... maybe we could have saved that child or made a difference.’”

By Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant