Hartford Foundation Approves $200,000 in Funding to Support Rockville/Vernon-Area Youth

Rockville/Vernon-area youth will have access to a wide variety of workshops and services designed to provide them with educational, recreational and leadership opportunities with the approval of a three-year, $200,000 grant to the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of CT Inc. d/b/a KIDSAFE CT from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

“These funds will allow us to provide many new and exciting educational seminars over the next three years for our youth,” said Judy Clarke, KIDSAFE CT’s executive director. “It is amazing to watch our youth grow and mature and move on to become successful adults. Our staff and volunteers have worked hard to build trusting respectful relationships with our youth. Our reward is getting to witness the successful transformations our youth go through, the leadership roles they take on at the drop-in center, the improvements they make in school and the more positive peer relationships they develop.”

The plan for these new services and workshops was based on information concerning recent developments in the community garnered from Rockville/Vernon youth drop-in center personnel and the findings of the Vernon Community Plan for Children and Youth. Among the emerging areas of need were:

  • Additional workshops on dating violence prevention geared towards middle school students;
  • Suicide prevention workshops and services, and services related to identifying bullying using curricula developed at Harvard University;
  • Independent living training with financial literacy and job-seeking skills.

Several new programs are also being introduced including:

  • A police/youth summer academy to maximize youth understanding of law enforcement;
  • “Rising Above Adversity Positively and Responsibly,” a motivational program led by local speakers who themselves overcame personal challenges similar to those of the youth participants;
  • The “Love 146” Task Force, developed in response to increasing reports of sex trafficking in the area. Love 146 is an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through survivor care, prevention, and professional training.

“The ‘heart’ of our program is our Youth Drop-in Center; our other programs branch out from there. Our entire program is based on staff and volunteers building trusting, nurturing, and mutually respectful relationships,” said Paula Plante, KIDSAFE CT’s youth program manager. “Many of our youth lack the basic life skills needed to be successful. We help to create a foundation to build upon for the 150 youth we see each year who continue to attend because they know we love them.”

KIDSAFE CT will provide all of these workshops and services at a variety of venues including the Rockville/Vernon youth drop-in center and Rockville/Vernon area middle school and high schools. Up to 500 youth are expected to participate in one or more of these new programs over the course of three years.

The funding provided by the Hartford Foundation will include partial support for two full-time staff people and other program costs. All of the programs are designed to spur student engagement and provide local youth with leadership development opportunities where they will help to create new programming and work with their peers to support these initiatives.

Since 1981, KIDSAFE CT has worked for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. The organization is a private nonprofit agency funded by Connecticut area Exchange Clubs, private donors and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. It is part of a network of centers established by the National Exchange Club Foundation for the Prevention of Child Abuse. KIDSAFE CT works to help families at risk of abuse or neglect of their children and families already experiencing problems of abuse or neglect. KIDSAFE CT currently serves Connecticut families in Vernon/Rockville, Tolland, South Windsor, Stafford, Ellington, Bolton, Manchester, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Hebron, Andover and Marlborough. For more information, visit www.kidsafect.org or call 860-872-1918.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, established in 1925, is the community foundation for 29 communities in the Hartford region. It is dedicated to putting philanthropy into action to create lasting solutions that result in vibrant communities within the Greater Hartford region. It receives gifts from generous individuals, families and organizations, and in 2013 awarded grants of more than $29 million to a broad range of area nonprofits. For more information, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.