May 28, 2012 | last updated June 2, 2012 2:22 pm

Big grants helping achieve big goals

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has declared war on what officials describe as "summer learning loss," making 68 grants totaling $771,000 to 46 agencies.

National research shows that all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer, said Judith McBride, a Hartford Foundation senior program officer who oversees the summer funding grants.

"Low-income students can lose more than two months in reading achievement, which certainly contributes to the state's education achievement gap, the worse in the nation," she added.

Among the beneficiaries are Connecticut Science Center programs. The funding will allow more than 1,700 youth to attend summer programs throughout Greater Hartford.

More than 90 percent of the programs funded link to school-year programs. The grant for the Science Center will help support its traveling program, Science in Motion, as well as admission to Science Center programs for youth participating in summer programs supported by the Hartford Foundation.

Overall, the Hartford Foundation funding will support 44 campership programs at 38 agencies, 14 counselor-in-training programs at 14 agencies, and 10 tutorial programs at 10 agencies. Fifty-two are day programs, 16 are residential and 13 are for people with special needs.

While most of the summer programs will serve youth in Hartford and East Hartford, more than 20 of the programs serve youth from throughout the region. Programs offer a variety of instruction and skill-building activities including swimming, riding and caring for horses, computer literacy, arts, reading and math.

The grants continue a tradition of Hartford Foundation support for regional summer programs that began in the 1960s.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region, dedicated to improving the quality of life for area residents.

Comcast aids Easter Seals

Easter Seals Capital Region in Hartford will establish a Mobility Development Lab, thanks to a grant from the Comcast Foundation.

The lab will use high tech assistive technology to fulfill the dreams of individuals who have mobility- or paralysis-related disability. The technology will seek to restore or strengthen the ability to walk independently using functional electrical stimulation.

The program is one of seven Easter Seals projects selected to share a $250,000 grant. Other programs are in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami and Philadelphia.

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Nonprofits gain $320k

A $50,000 donation to the PT Barnum Museum Foundation in Bridgeport is the largest Connecticut grant made in the second quarter by the People's United Community Foundation. The grant is part of $697,500 awarded to 86 nonprofit organizations throughout the communities People's United Bank serves in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine.

The funding was distributed within the foundation's three areas of focus, with 33 percent allocated to community development, 26 percent to youth development and 16 percent to affordable housing initiatives. The People's United Community Foundation also contributed 25 percent of its funding to local United Way organizations across its footprint through the People's United Bank employee match campaign.

Other recipients of the more than $320,000 awarded to Connecticut nonprofits include:

Corporation for Supportive Housing, $15,000; St. Raphael Foundation Inc., $15,000; Connecticut Housing Investment Fund Inc., $12,500; Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, $12,000; Connecticut Preengineering Program Inc., $10,000; Connecticut Zoological Society Inc., $10,000; HEDCO Inc., $10,000; Western Connecticut State University Foundation, $10,000; St. Vincent Foundation Inc., $10,000; St. Luke's Community Services Inc., $10,000.

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Workforce grants

The Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford will be providing basic skills and job training to out-of-work and underemployed area residents, thanks to a three-year, $450,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Founded in 2008, the Workforce Solutions Collaborative is a public/private partnership focused on ensuring that the region has an educated, economically self-sufficient workforce with the skills needed by area employers. The collaborative brings together government agencies, foundations and other philanthropic organizations to collectively fund programs that can address problems that are beyond the scale of any single organization.

One example of this type of approach to education and job training is the Academic Skills Enhancement for Energy-Related Careers training program. The program assists unemployed and underemployed adults in the Hartford and Enfield labor markets prepare for careers in the energy industry. This collaboration was made possible through a grant from the Workforce Solutions Collaborative, with support from the CT STEM Jobs Project.

"Many Connecticut residents are searching for work, and they aren't aware of the growing opportunity in the energy sector," says Judy Resnick, executive director of CBIA's Education Foundation, which is responsible for administering the program with the Capitol Region Education Council.

Launched in February 2012, the free six-week training program includes full-day classroom and online training courses designed to increase critical thinking, math and applied technology skills, and preparation for pre-employment aptitude tests and academic placement tests. The training also prepares participants to be tested for the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, a national credential identified by the Center for Energy Workforce Development as the entry-level standard for the energy industry.


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