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Wesleyan’s Girls in Science Summer Camp Gets Young Scientists Excited about STEM 

GIS

Marty Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences, leads an experiment about meteors during the Girls in Science Summer Camp Aug. 8. (Photo by Kerisha Harris)

(Story by Kerisha Harris)

For the sixth year in a row, the weeklong Wesleyan Girls in Science Summer Camp welcomed dozens of middle school-aged girls for a week of learning, exploration, and STEM-centered fun.

From Aug. 5-9 inside Exley Science Center, the 32 campers in grades 4-6 spent the week learning about everything from how to extract DNA from a strawberry, to the parts of the brain, and even how to make (but don’t touch) an ice-cold comet. By Friday, the young scientists were excited to share all they had learned with their friends and families, and did so through a poster presentation and art display.

Girls in Science participants observe a "comet" they created during the camp.

Girls in Science participants observe a “comet” they created during the camp.

This partnership between Wesleyan and Middletown Public Schools gives girls the chance to explore and cultivate their interest in science by conducting fun experiments in real-life labs, discovering scientific concepts, vocabulary and equipment, and learning from female Wesleyan professors and students in the sciences.

This year marked the first time in the program’s history that the camp took place fully under the umbrella of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.  Additionally, the Jewett Center partnered with In-Reach, a program coordinated by Melisa Olgun ’20, to bring local high school girls in as program assistants. These young scientists-in-training provided guidance and support for the campers, while also getting to spend time in research labs at Wesleyan.

Wesleyan-Middletown Collaborations Strengthen Community

The Wesleyan Upward Bound Math-Science Program is designed to help low-income and first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential, to excel in math and science, and pursue post secondary degrees. The Upward Bound Program is benefiting from new federal funding and is one of many Wesleyan-Middletown collaborations. Pictured are Upward Bound students in 2016. 

A new $1.3 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education over five years to Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program has brought federal funding for an important collaborative initiative in Middletown that will help provide low-income, historically underrepresented high school students with pathways to success in science and math.

The grant is the latest in a growing list of initiatives that are bringing Middletown and Wesleyan together in projects large and small.

“We don’t often pause to appreciate the full scope of collaborations between Wesleyan and Middletown,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth, “but when we do, the many ways they are contributing to the growth of our strong local community become so apparent. We couldn’t ask for better partners than we have here in Middletown.”

Liberty Bank Foundation Funds Scholarships for GSAC’s AfterSchool Program

libertybankThe Liberty Bank Foundation awarded the Green Street Arts Center with a $5,000 grant to support the center’s Discovery AfterSchool Program. The funds help provide scholarships for students who need financial assistance to attend the program.

The Discovery AfterSchool Program offers a range of classes in the arts, math, and sciences for children in Grades 1-8. The program brings those things together in a safe space for children to build self-esteem and problem-solving skills.

The AfterSchool team is made up of core education staff, professional instructors and Wesleyan students who serve as teaching assistants and homework tutors.

Liberty Bank Supports Green Street’s AfterSchool Program

Liberty Bank presented a $5,000 grant to the Green Street Arts Center.

Liberty Bank presented a $5,000 grant to the Green Street Arts Center.

The Green Street Arts Center received a $5,000 grant from Liberty Bank in August. Green Street will use the award to support its Art and Science AfterSchool Program that serve students in grades 1 – 8.

Green Street’s integrative classes in art, math, and science foster creativity and build problem-solving skills in a safe space where students can express themselves.

Liberty Bank Foundation Supports Kindergarten Kickstart

The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a grant of $30,000 over three years to support the Kindergarten Kickstart program, a summer pre-K program that is a collaborative partnership between Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman’s lab, MacDonough Elementary School, North End Action Team (NEAT), and the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Family Resource Center. The program was piloted for the first time last summer at MacDonough.
The grant will provide about 50 percent of the program’s operating cost for each of the next three years, and allow the program to expand to two locations. Each site will be staffed by three Wesleyan students and one certified teacher with experience in the Middletown elementary schools.
Read more about the Kindergarten Kickstart program in this Wesleyan Connection story.

Liberty Bank Foundation Supports Program for College Success

Wesleyan’s Program for Student College Success received a $5,000 grant from the Liberty Bank Foundation on Dec. 19. The award will support the program through Nov. 1, 2013.

Wesleyan’s Program for College Success is a comprehensive program that supports first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students as they move through high school and into college. The program serves 100 high school students (25 in each class), helping them to make a successful transition to college. Led by a director and operated by college students and recent graduates, the program consists of a four-week summer session and 40 weeks of programming throughout the academic year. Wesleyan students will offer tutoring and other academic support as needed.

Liberty Bank Foundation Supports Etherington Scholarships

The Liberty Bank Foundation awarded Wesleyan a grant for $2,000 in support of the Etherington Scholarship Program on Oct. 29. Funding assists graduates of, or transfers from, any of the Connecticut community/technical colleges in meeting their educational costs at Wesleyan.

Upward Bound Co-Founder Honored for Community Service

Willard M. McRae, co-founder of Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Program, recently received Liberty Bank’s ninth annual Community Diversity Award. The Community Diversity Award was introduced in 2001 to recognize people who build bridges between those of different races, economic backgrounds, faiths, cultures and capabilities, according to the bank.

McRae was awarded at a reception among area dignitaries at St. Clements Castle in Portland, Conn., in late October for his lifelong dedication to creating opportunities for children and adults in the areas of education, mental health and human services.

In presenting the award, Liberty Bank President and CEO Chandler Howard called attention to the increasing diversity of the Connecticut population over the past few decades. “Our community today has many different faces … many different voices,” Howard said in a Nov. 7 Middletown Press article. “The Community Diversity Award was conceived to honor a few very special people who have led the way in bringing all those different voices into harmony. These are people who look at differences, and see opportunities. They experience the unfamiliar, and feel enriched by it. They listen to disagreements, and find common ground. Willard McRae is one of those special people.”

Bank Foundation Supports Etherington Scholarships

The Etherington Scholarship Program received a grant worth $2,000 from the Liberty Bank Foundation on July 6. The Etherington Scholarships offer outstanding students from Connecticut community colleges a chance to attend Wesleyan.

Upward Bound Celebrates 40th Anniversary


Posted 11/05/07
For 40 years, Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Program has prepared hundreds of underrepresented local youth for college by providing rigorous academic summer experiences, motivational “boot camps”, college visits and assistance with the challenging college application and financial application processes.

On Nov. 10, Upward Bound will celebrate its 40th anniversary inside Wesleyan’s newly renovated Fayerweather Building in the Edgar F. Beckham Hall. Beckham was one of the Upward Bound founders, and along with Willard McRae and others, they had a vision that local, low income students should have the opportunity to consider the college dream.

“Upward Bound has been empowering eligible youth to pursue their dream of a higher education,” says Donna Thompson, ’80, Upward Bound project director. “Students receive so many negative messages from peers and adults saying ‘you can’t’ or ‘you don’t belong.’ We create a culture of challenging academic expectations and expect students to push themselves continuously.”

Thompson says many students confess that initially, they secretly believed that college was not a possibility for them.

“As they are the first in their families to consider college, our students become trailblazers for their extended families and friends,” she says. “Through intensive leadership development experiences and self-directed learning activities, coupled with high expectations from a committed staff, students gradually realize and demonstrate that their dreams can become reality.”

More than 80 percent of the students who begin the four-year commitment continue with the program compared with a 60 percent retention rate nationally. Between 90 and 95 percent enroll in college and graduate at significantly higher rates then their peers.

The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the Connecticut Department of Education and the boards of education of the Middletown, Meriden and Portland Schools. In addition, Upward Bound has received supplemental funding from the Liberty Bank Foundation and other sources.

“We are grateful for the many supporters and cheerleaders in the community who have believed in our mission over the years,” Thompson says.

The Wesleyan Upward Bound 40th Anniversary Gala will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 10 in Beckham Hall. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for Wesleyan students and children, and $40 for Wesleyan faculty, staff and the general public.

For more information go to http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice, www.wesleyan.edu/upwardbound/ or call 860-685-3194.