Naugatuck Valley Community College
Commission AmeriCorps State FY 2011
Waterbury, CT is a city afflicted with high poverty and unemployment rates. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in its 2006-2008 Population and Housing Narrative Profile that about one third of the City's population under the poverty level are children under the age of eighteen. In the Waterbury Public Schools, 74.7% of the students are eligible for free/reduced-price meals. In addition, the Connecticut Department of Labor stated in September of this year that Waterbury had the highest unemployment rate in the State, at a staggering 11.5%. To compound those numbers, the 2006-2008 Population and Housing Narrative from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that only 24% of Waterbury adults age 25 and older had at least an associate's degree. This combination of depressing socioeconomic factors and low aspiration toward academics has led to a public school system where standardized testing scores are among the lowest in the state and a town where job prospects are grim. The greatest needs in Waterbury are to improve the students' ambition towards learning and bolster work readiness skills in order for the City to recover from the downward spiral that currently exists. The NVCC/AmeriCorps Program, housed at Naugatuck Valley Community College will address both of these issues by establishing a mentoring program where 50 highly trained members will work with K-12 students in the Waterbury Public Schools and students at NVCC for one year. The NVCC/AmeriCorps Program will train the members in mentoring, tutoring, job readiness, and professional development skills. The members will mentor the students in in-school and after school programs. The members will help students with homework, coach athletic teams and enhance educational support services throughout the Waterbury Public Schools. At NVCC, the mentors will work with students on academic skills and seek to improve retention, particularly among young minority males. The NVCC/AmeriCorps members will undergo extensive training in mentoring, tutoring and coaching skills that they rely on during their service work. At the outset of the program the members will take part in an intensive orientation session where they will learn and develop leadership and team building skills. The members will also begin training in scientifically research based tutoring and mentoring skills that will be reinforced throughout the member service year. Throughout the year, the members will also be trained in professional development skills they will use throughout their lives after their AmeriCorps service is completed. An additional component of the NVCC/AmeriCorps Program will be volunteer generation. Under the direction of the Program Director, the NVCC/AmeriCorps members will have the autonomy to create community service projects that address needs within Waterbury they would like to undertake. The members will be responsible for planning and carrying out the projects. During this process, the members are required to recruit and train 100 additional volunteers. This will give the members an opportunity to practice communication, team building, and planning skills that will be essential for their future in the workplace and other service work. The administration at NVCC is excited about the opportunity to bring AmeriCorps to the college. NVCC President, Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Pd. D. has been at the college since 2009 and is eagerly seeking to make the college more prominent within the community. The college currently provides educational services and opportunities to many local residents however the statistics show that many people in Waterbury are underserved, uneducated and lack the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce. The NVCC/AmeriCorps Program will promote volunteerism in a community that so desperately needs it by training members increase their professional development skills and to enhance educational support services, mentoring and coaching in Waterbury.