The participants of Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Inc. are poverty-stricken boys and girls who oftentimes go without basic necessities such as school and hygiene supplies. Oftentimes, when parents cannot provide the basic necessities for their children, students miss the beginning of the school year, setting them back academically. Considering that many of our students have a poor relationship with education when they begin here at the Center, they need every advantage and all the assistance they can get.
For the past several years, our Backpack Project has provided all the basic necessities our youngsters need to start school. We started this project to ensure that all of our participants are prepared for the first day of school with a backpack and all the necessary school supplies. Providing these basic supplies takes a great burden off the parents of our students. We have recently included hygiene supplies in the backpacks because many of our participants’ families cannot afford things like deodorant, shampoo, and toothpaste, and these items are just as necessary for a child to be prepared for school; the lack of these supplies can do long term damage to these children’s identity development. Keeping clean is an important part of staying healthy. Being clean and well presented is also an important part of confidence for teenagers. Items such as toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant are vital for students overall health and self esteem. Unfortunately, in many cases, our program is the only place they can get such items.
Why it matters?
New Britain has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the state, twice the state’s average. Unemployment and dropping out is very common. Our participants are poverty-stricken, mostly Latino boys and girls, who are largely from single-parent households. Oftentimes, they go without basic necessities such as school and hygiene supplies. Because of this, they miss school and fall behind their more well-off peers, perpetuating the cycle of poor education and poverty. Our backpack project has allowed all of our participants, and many of their younger siblings, to be prepared for success in school. High school graduation is an ultimate goal of this program as a whole, and this project is a key step in achieving that goal.
Currently we are facing severe cuts from our major funding source, the CT Department of Social Services. We do not want to use private funds for this project, but we will if necessary because of its vast importance. Unfortunately, that would mean that we have to take away from another aspect of our program.
Since the project has started, all of our students have received a backpack full of supplies at the end of the summer. We have even been able to provide their younger siblings with full backpacks as well. As we hoped, attendance for the first day, and week, of school has increased. Our participants face a lot of hardships, but because of this project, they are able to start the school year on equal footing with their more well-off peers.
How will the funds be used?
We will continue to track our students’ attendance at our program and at school. In addition, we will continue to monitor their school performance and grades. Our program is annually evaluated by an outside research firm, Philliber Research Associates. They track our students’ progress over the short and long term; we will continue to use these evaluations to improve our service delivery to each child.
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Mary Anna T Rizzo
Andrew M Rizzo
Ruth Ann Mills
Ken & Marie Elterich
Kathleen M Sauer
Brian P Place
nathaniel a williams
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Geoff has worked at Pathways/Senderos for 7 years. He received his bachelor’s from UConn and his Master’s from Central Connecticut State University. Geoff is responsible for coordinating program events as well as informing the public about the benefits of the program.
Nick has worked at Pathways/Senderos for over 10 years and has been working with the youth of New Britain for over 15 years. He received his bachelor’s at UConn. He has a deep connection with the participants and their families.
Alexis has been working with Pathways for over 3 years. He received his bachelor’s from Central Connecticut State University and is active in the New Britain community as a coach and mentor.
Heather has been working with Pathways for over 15 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Hartford. She is closely connected to the families we serve and the community as a whole.
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