Programs Hope to Assist Non-College-Bound Youth

Programs Hope to Assist Non-College-Bound Students with Community Foundation Help

Catalyst Grant of Up to $10,000 to be Awarded in November for Employment Strategies to Build “Workforce of the Future”

New Britain, Conn., September 22, 2017 – Armed with a variety of strategies to put local high school students not planning to attend college on successful career paths, three local programs recently made presentations to members of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain’s Catalyst Fund in an effort to secure up to $10,000 in grant funding to implement their plans.

Representatives of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, New Britain’s Opportunities Industrialization Center and Plainville’s Community Schools each made strong arguments last week for their strategies and initiatives before an engaged and inquisitive gathering of community-minded Catalyst Fund members on Stanley Black & Decker’s New Britain campus.

Paulette Fox of the Opportunities Industrialization Center

Paulette Fox of the Opportunities Industrialization Center

One proposal will be chosen by members in November to receive a $10,000 Catalyst grant.

Hartford-based Junior Achievement of Southwest New England (JA), which has been empowering young people to own their economic success since 1951, would use the funding to fund “JA Pathways to Careers,” a program that has been developed in partnership with Berlin High School and the Berlin Economic Development Council. The program is designed to prepare 700 Berlin High School students, including 100 not on track to attend college, for successful careers.

“Our JA president, Jeremy Race, was a Berlin High School graduate. He was one of those students who was uncertain about what to do with his life and who believed college was the only option,” said JA Director of Education and Specialty Programs Nicole Diorio. “With this program we hope to identify students we can help and introduce them to alternative opportunities and new pathways to career success.”

The Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) on North Street, which helps middle, high school and out-of-school youth achieve personal development, empowerment, self-sufficiency and independence, would use the funding to implement the Men of Color program. In partnership with the New Britain High School Satellite Careers, Health and Finance Academies, career development specialists would work with 15 New Britain youth in a special Saturday program utilizing The Career Edge curriculum, a research-based job training curriculum that challenges youth to move forward.

“OIC has a reputation for preparing youth for the world of work by instilling the necessary soft skills needed for employment and productive lives,” said OIC Executive Director Paulette Fox. “We view this funding as an ideal opportunity to expand the good work we do, pairing young men of color with career advisors and mentors who can set them on the path to success.”

Plainville’s Community Schools would use the funding to hire a “job coach” for its Alternative Learning Center, designed to assist students who are behind in credit achievement, may not have a clear direction for post-secondary life and who are often disengaged/disenfranchised from their peers. The program provides an alternative, individualized means of achieving a high school diploma and a workable post-high school plan.

“These are students who we know, without something different, an alternative, are not going to fare well,” said Plainville Community Schools Superintendent Maureen Brummett. “The job coach woul be integral to the success of these students, who need more directed support in order to finish high school in time with the necessary skills to enter the workforce.”

The Catalyst Fund is a “giving circle” of local citizens who seek to improve quality of life in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. An annual gift of $250 affords community-minded Catalyst Fund members the unique opportunity to be active participants in positively impacting their communities. Three times per year, members gather to learn about a member-chosen issue facing their community, and to consider funding requests from charitable organizations addressing the issue. The year concludes with a grant of up to $10,000. This year’s issue is “Workforce of the Future.”

Catalyst Fund members will consider the proposals and reconvene on November 9 to choose this year’s grantee.  Anyone interested learning more about the Catalyst Fund and becoming a member is welcome to attend the November 9 meeting. Questions regarding Catalyst Fund membership may be directed to Joeline Wruck at or 860-229-6018, ext. 307.

Established in 1941, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain is “Where Good Begins” in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. The Foundation works to inspire philanthropy, manage permanent charitable assets effectively, and partner to address key community issues through strategic leadership. For more information, visit