As someone who grew up in poverty, Jamal Jimerson remembers how his family and many of his peers didn’t really look at themselves as being poor. While this outlook provided Jamal’s family with a sense of strength and resilience to help address the challenges they faced, it might have also prevented them from realizing they might have been eligible to access a wide variety of useful programs and services.
As the coordinator of a new effort underway in Hartford and East Hartford, Jimerson is working with low-income families to remove personal and structural barriers that typically stand in the way of adults achieving successful long-term employment. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded a one-year, $74,880 grant to Move Up! Partnership for Adult Learning to support the Greater Hartford Two Generation Pilot Project for School and Workforce Readiness. This initiative will serve 30 families with at least one child ages 0-8, and at least one under-educated, unemployed or underemployed parent from East Hartford or Hartford. This work links directly to two key focus areas of the Foundation’s strategic plan; learning from birth through college and family economic security.
This pilot program is one of six statewide two-generational demonstration projects that will serve as a blueprint for a statewide two-generational school readiness and workforce development strategy. Connecticut is just one of a handful of states currently developing models to address challenges faced by low income adults with young children.
“Many programs designed to assist low income people fail to recognize that families are creative, resourceful and whole,” said Jimerson, whose formal title is 2Gen Program Coordinator for Move Up!. “The two generation model acknowledges that people possess these qualities and we partner with families to help them identify their goals for themselves and their children and provide them with the supports they need to achieve them.”
The Two-Generation approach focuses on aligning a variety of services across multiple organizations, resulting in coordinated services for children and parents together. The Hartford Two Generation project will develop two generation hub sites in Hartford and East Hartford and will involve multiple partners including the City of Hartford, Catholic Charities, East Hartford Public Schools, East Hartford Head Start, Birth to Three, Family Resource Centers, CREC, Integrated Health Services and First Choice Health.
Projected outcomes for the one-year, 2Gen Pilot Project include:
In addition to the grant from the Hartford Foundation, the Hartford Two-Gen project will receive support from the State of Connecticut 2gen Pilot Project fund and other state investments. Foundation funds will support a portion of three staff salaries, including a program coordinator and two “Cradle to Career Family Navigators,” as well as additional program expenses.
The Hartford Foundation’s director of Early Childhood Investments, Richard Sussman, who served on the state’s Two Generation Task Force, believes this project will assist the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to create a more cohesive system of services for children and families by creating a common platform that will make it easier to share data, and develop more effective evaluation and accountability measures.
“It’s terrific when a good idea takes hold and revolutionizes the way we think about supporting children and families,” said Sussman. “The implementation of the Two-Generation model in Hartford and East Hartford affords us the opportunity to meet parent’s workforce goals and the needs of young children for high quality pre-school education. We applaud the efforts of Move Up!, which was selected by a group of over 40 service providers to lead this important work in Greater Hartford.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrates 90 years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by gifts from thousands of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $650 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.