Hartford Youth Organizations to Receive More than $10M to Reengage Young People

Today the City of Hartford, Dalio Education, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving announced they are together investing $9.85 million over the next eighteen months to support opportunity youth, who are individuals 16 – 24 who are currently disengaged from school or work.  The funding will go to COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) and Roca, Inc. Dalio Education has committed $4.5 million, the Hartford Foundation is committing $3.5 million and the City of Hartford is committing $1.85 million.

The funding will allow these organizations to provide individualized, trauma-informed, high-touch support to the young people they specialize in working with:

  • COMPASS will use its funding to expand its Peacebuilders programming model, which will increase the number of violence interrupters in Hartford working to de-escalate conflict and build relationships with the hardest to reach youth.
  • OPP will significantly increase the capacity of the Youth Service Corps, allowing it to serve 100 additional young people, on top of the approximately 250 young people they currently serve annually.  Mayor Luke Bronin led the creation of the Youth Service Corps in 2016 to give young people part-time jobs as well as one-on-one coaching and mentoring.
  • Roca is a national youth-serving organization that is currently working in Massachusetts and Maryland.  They will begin working in Hartford, specifically serving young women, including young mothers, who are victims of abuse and neglect. 

In addition, Congressman John B. Larson announced his requests for $630,000 for Hartford Communities That Care and $300,000 for Mothers United Against Violence, two Hartford organizations that work specifically to support victims of violence, were included in the FY2022 House Appropriations bills.

The City of Hartford also announced that later this year it will be issuing a Request for Proposals for at least $3 million dollars over the next three years aimed at supporting other organizations doing conflict resolution work.

“All young people in Hartford deserve the chance to be successful, and these investments in organizations that work every day to engage young people will dramatically expand the kind of individualized, high-touch support that we know is effective,” said Mayor Bronin.  “We created the Youth Service Corps five years ago because there are young people who need more intensive support – in addition to enrichment activities like sports leagues and after-school programs.  Organizations like COMPASS, Our Piece of the Pie, and Roca have deep experience, expertise, and highly qualified staff that can reach young people in Hartford, and I could not be more grateful to them for their partnership.  I want to thank Dalio Education and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for their extraordinarily generous ongoing commitment to expand this vital work in our community.  I also want to recognize our Chief Operating Officer, Thea Montanez, who is a driving force behind our work to support our residents with the highest needs, and Kim Oliver and her team who work every day to expand opportunities for families and young people across Hartford.” 

“Congressman Larson does an enormous amount for Hartford on so many fronts, and this funding to Hartford Communities That Care and Mothers United Against Violence will significantly bolster their tireless work to heal and support our community,” continued Mayor Bronin.  “These two organizations work closely both with victims of violence and their families, and their commitment to our community over so many years, as well as their partnership with the Hartford Police Department and the Department of Families, Children, Youth, and Recreation play an essential role in our work to build safe and strong neighborhoods.  Later this year we will also be expanding our support to other community based organizations doing conflict resolution work in Hartford, with at least one million additional dollars each for the next three years,” concluded Mayor Bronin.

“Organizations like Hartford Communities That Care and Mothers United Against Violence are on the frontlines of the battle against gun violence every single day. This funding will help prevent violence in the Hartford region and support victims and the families of victims of gun violence. I thank Andrew Woods, the entire Hartford Communities That Care team, Rev. Henry Brown, Deborah Davis, Henrietta Beckman, and all of the Mothers United Against Violence for the work that they do,” said Rep. John B. Larson.  “I also would like to applaud the announcement from Mayor Bronin, the City of Hartford, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the Dalio Foundation that they are investing $9.85 Million to support Opportunity Youth. This is a fantastic initiative for our local youth and I thank COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Our Piece of the Pie, and Roca, Inc. for their collaboration.”

“The young people these organizations are trying to reach need all the help they can get because too many people have written them off,” said Barbara Dalio, Founder and Director of Dalio Education.  “They deserve a chance to make their lives better, to change the course they’re currently on.  The women and men who staff these organizations are the quiet heroes in all of this.  The work they do is hard — really hard — and if the funds we’re providing — along with funds from the City of Hartford and the Hartford Foundation — help them do their jobs and reach these young people, then we’re glad to do our part.  I want to thank Mayor Bronin and Congressman Larson for their leadership; they too know how important this work is, and we wouldn’t be making this announcement today if it hadn’t been for their efforts.”

“Recognizing the growing urgency to better serve youth in Hartford, this coordinated effort will leverage the strengths of each funder, offering flexible support for program costs and building the capacity of each nonprofit to produce better outcomes for opportunity youth,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams.   “Serving this population requires persistent and patient interventions by youth-serving organizations and the Hartford Foundation is partnering with Dalio Education and the City of Hartford to develop a multi-year, co-investment strategy designed to ensure a more coordinated continuum of care and opportunity.”

Over the past two years, COMPASS, OPP and Roca have collaboratively worked with Dalio Education in an effort to better coordinate their services and clarify distinctions and connections between their programs, both in terms of population served and specific services that each organization is uniquely suited to provide.

"Roca is incredibly privileged to be joining the Hartford community to work with the most vulnerable, high-risk young mothers and women who have a direct impact on urban violence, but are largely unseen and underserved," said Sunindiya Bhalla, Executive Vice President, Women & 2Gen, who will lead this effort for Roca.  "Over the next four years, Roca plans to work with 250 young mothers ages 16 to 24 and their children to help them heal from trauma, become resilient and find hope in order to break intergenerational cycles of poverty and violence."

COMPASS serves youth who are closely touched by violence, predominately young men, and OPP serves youth who may be ready to reconnect to school and employment but still need significant supports.  Together they represent a comprehensive approach to interrupting and responding to conflict while providing critical wraparound supports and resources for successful school reengagement and workforce readiness.

“We thank the Hartford Foundation, Dalio Education and the City of Hartford for investing in Hartford’s youth,” said Jacquelyn Santiago. “This support means that COMPASS can deploy well equipped Peacebuilders to save lives in the community.  This investment will allow us to deepen our knowledge, gain qualified education and clinical staff, and implement Cognitive Behavioral/life skills to ensure that our youth have an opportunity to start their journey to success.”   

“We see our youth as an essential part of the solution and are grateful for the support of The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Dalio Education and Mayor Luke Bronin and his team at the City of Hartford,” said Hector Rivera, interim CEO of OPP.  “We will now be able to take bold steps amid a changing and highly competitive landscape in a post-pandemic world as we prepare our youth to navigate life’s challenges while helping them to explore and prepare for their future educational and career paths.  This provides youth the opportunity to develop themselves while also contributing to their community – a success for us all!”