(In June, 2016, New Britain captured the National Civic League’s All-America City Award in Denver for its work in developing innovative solutions to ensure its children are healthy and supported to succeed in school and in life. The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain has been a key contributor, through its leadership, support of the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth and ongoing First Years First early childhood development initiative, to the community’s success. Mayor Erin Stewart hosted a community-wide celebration of the landmark achievement on August 25. The following story appeared in The New Britain Herald.)
New Britain’s All-America City award celebrated
By Robert Storace
August 25, 2016
NEW BRITAIN — “We are an All-America City!”
When Mayor Erin Stewart made that announcement in the Trinity-on-Main auditorium Thursday evening, the audience of about 130 people erupted in applause.
After speeches and fanfare, 10 of the 11 members of the New Britain delegation who traveled to Denver in June to take part in the National Civic League’s All-America City competition presented Stewart with the official award designating New Britain as one of 10 All-America Cities.
Many in the delegation said the award will give the city a greater chance of being singled out for grants as well as an opportunity to better market itself.
In her speech, Stewart said New Britain “beats the odds and finds a way.”
Trinity-on-Main was filled with whiteboards and banners highlighting city accomplishments. The city was recognized for reducing chronic absenteeism, addressing the issues of obesity and asthma head-on, and for two other endeavors: The YWCA House of Teens program aimed at building self-esteem in young women and the Summer Enrichment Program that provides an academic curriculum for students in the morning and activities including yoga, arts and crafts and karate in the afternoon.
“Let’s remember that being an All-America City isn’t just about a fancy banner,” Stewart said. “When we achieve our goals, they teach us to think big. … What we do with this recognition and where we go from here depends on all of us in this room. We must continue to highlight our successes, dig in deep to find solutions to challenges we face as a community, and never stop striving to do better.”
Robin Sparks, executive director of the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, gave the opening and closing remarks.
Sparks, a member of the city’s delegation that traveled to Denver, said she’ll submit a letter of intent to take part in the 2017 National Civic League competition by November.
“When we go out for other awards and grants, this award will definitely help us,” Sparks said. “We want to use this award to garner national funding partners. We would like to partner with national foundations such as the Kellogg Foundation, Wallace Foundation and others.”
Chamber of Commerce President Timothy T. Stewart, another member of the city’s delegation, has said marketing efforts will begin over the next several months and will include electronic billboards, print and radio advertisements and “potentially, television ads.”
“It’s a great win for this city, we deserve it,” said Jim Williamson, president of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain. The foundation made a $10,000 grant to help pay for travel expenses for the delegation.
“This is a phenomenal recognition of all of the hard work by so many people,” Williamson said. “The city has historically had a reputation that wasn’t always positive, but underneath that was all this great working going on. This shows what a community can do when people check their egos at the door and work together for a higher purpose.”
For Malloy Deprey, another delegation member and program coordinator for the YWCA, Thursday evening was “all about pride in New Britain.”
“We care about our community, our children and our families,” Deprey said. “New Britain is definitely on the map.”
Tickets for the celebration were $20 each. All proceeds will benefit the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth.