Tag Archive for Center for Community Partnerships

Students Discuss Recent Engage 2020 Experiences

Over winter break, 16 students traveled to a variety of locations around the United States to support voter registration, participate in political campaigns, and work with advocacy groups as part of the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative. E2020 is a comprehensive university effort to support student learning via civic engagement and liberal arts education.

On Feb. 19, students gathered in Allbritton Hall to share their reflections on their winter session E2020 experiences. Some sought to educate young people about the electoral process and mobilize them to vote; others worked on issues such as immigration, criminal justice reform, housing justice, and reproductive rights.

Students wishing to volunteer in the public sphere over academic breaks may apply to the E2020 Fund for support for associated transportation and living expenses. Students awarded support, subsequently enroll in CSPL 494—a quarter-credit course that involves orientation, structured reflection, and a final paper.

Photos and information on the students’ winter break E2020 experiences are below. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Olivia Backal-Balik

Olivia Backal-Balik ’20 worked for Philadelphia Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) over winter break. PICC has an all-volunteer-run program that conducts voter registration at naturalization ceremonies in Philadelphia. “It’s an exciting day because there are a lot of people with their families, or older people who are finally naturalized after waiting for 25 years,” she said. “I’ve worked a lot on the other end of immigration policy, supporting people who are at risk of detention, so to be on the other end and to see people finally granted asylum is exciting. I didn’t realize how many people get naturalized weekly, and they came from so many different countries, so it was really amazing. … What I liked is that I had it in my head that the older generation is not that involved in activism or grassroots organizing, but that group was really run by older retirees who come to register people, so it was cool for me to see what they were doing.”

Engage 2020 Off to a Running Start

E2020Wesleyan’s new Engage 2020 Initiative (E2020) is facilitating student educational experiences in the public sphere ahead of the 2020 elections. As part of this initiative, Wesleyan also is highlighting the contributions of higher education more broadly in promoting democracy.

Over the past few months, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 has been speaking with other higher education leaders about the “shared responsibilities of higher education institutions for developing civically engaged citizens and contributing to the civic life of the United States.”

While the particulars of this work may look different at each institution, leaders at schools around the US have registered their commitment to three core principles:

  1. Developing civic preparedness is a core element of the mission of American higher education.
  2. Participating in American political life helps students learn from a diversity of ideas and people while developing skills for lifelong, active citizenship.
  3. Empowering students and teachers to engage with the complex issues facing the country are crucial facets of higher education’s contributions to the common good.

So far, over 60 other colleges and universities have joined Wesleyan in affirming these principles. These schools represent a broad cross-section of higher education, including public and private institutions, liberal arts colleges and research institutions, secular and religious colleges. A full list of these institutions, which will be continually updated as new schools sign on, can be viewed here.

Students Volunteer with Civic Organizations Over Winter Break

Perri Easley '23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., to educate students about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the U.S. Census, the Electoral College, and voter suppression. Easley worked with Rock the Vote, a non-partisan group dedicated to building the political power of young people. (Photo by Steve Patchett).

Perri Easley ’23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., to educate students about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the US Census, the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. (Photo by Steve Patchett)

The first cohort of students participating in the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative dedicated their winter breaks to working for voter registration and issues advocacy groups, as well as for a range of candidates for presidential, congressional, and local offices.

The 16 students participating over winter break were stationed in states as far-flung as Georgia and Alaska, New York and Arizona. Wesleyan awarded over $20,000 to assist with participants’ living and travel expenses while they conducted this work.

Many students chose to work with organizations advocating for particular issues, including criminal justice reform, housing justice, reproductive rights, and immigration.

Others focused their efforts on voter engagement and registration. Perri Easley ’23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., and at the Morris County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America to educate young people about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the US Census, the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. Voter registration drives were held at both events for high school students who are of eligible age to register to vote.

Students to Work in Public Sphere Over Winter Break

engageNearly 20 Wesleyan students are dedicating their winter breaks to civic participation.

Eighteen Wesleyan students will spend a portion of December and January engaging in projects related to voter registration and issues advocacy in Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona, amongst others states through the Wesleyan Engage 2020 Initiative. E2020 is a comprehensive University effort to support student learning via civic engagement and liberal arts education.

“This will be an intense learning experience for students,” said Clifton Watson, director for the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships. “Students will engage folks from diverse backgrounds—across the country—during a unique moment in American society, around issues that many Americans are deeply passionate about.”

Participants in the initiative will enroll in CSPL494, a quarter-credit course that includes orientation, structured reflection, and a final paper. Students may apply to the E2020 Fund for funding to offset transportation and living expenses while participating in engagement work. All applications are assessed on the degree to which they address the educational value inherent in civic engagement, as well as the reasonableness of proposed budgets. E2020 is open to and encourages participation regardless of political affiliation or stances on specific issues.

A full menu of programs aligned with E2020 will be announced in the coming weeks. In addition, students may apply for financial support for work over spring break (deadline: Feb. 7, 2020) and over summer and fall breaks (deadlines to be announced at a future date).

Wesleyan has a long history of providing opportunities for student engagement in the public sphere. The Civic Action Plan sets goals for building civic preparedness among students, faculty, and staff, and for enhancing the University’s role in public life.

WESU 88.1 FM Celebrates 80th Anniversary with Free Form Jubilee

Jubilee

Wesleyan’s community-based radio station, WESU 88.1 FM, celebrated its 80th anniversary on Dec. 8 with a Free Form Jubilee.

The event, held in the Daniel Family Commons, featured special musical performances and talks by local dignitaries.

Established in 1939, WESU began as one of the first student-owned and -operated radio stations in the country. That fall, Wesleyan freshman Arch Doty Jr. began broadcasting his homemade 1-watt AM transmitter from his Clark Hall dorm room. Eighty years later, WESU is among the largest student groups on Wesleyan’s campus, uniting nearly 150 student and community volunteer broadcasters.

The event featured Noah Baerman, director of the Wesleyan jazz ensemble; Cormac Chester ’20, public affairs director of WESU; Connecticut Senator Mary Abrams; City of Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim ’14; Ben Michael, manager of WESU; Americana musicians Rani Arbo and Scott Kessel; Clifton Watson, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships; Kate Rushin, award-winning poet; Don Minott, roots-reggae singer; Wesleyan rapper Laszlo; Banning Eyre ’79 of Afropop Worldwide; The Super Girls Group, including Lilian Walker of The Exciters, Margaret Ross Williams of The Cookies, and Louise Murray of The Hearts and Jaynetts; and Randy and Freddie Moses of Middletown’s legendary R&B group, The House of Moses.

WESU’s eight-decade legacy of service can be explored in an online exhibit.

(Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

Noah Baerman

Noah Baerman.

roots reggae singer. Don Minott

Don Minott.

Wesleyan Earns Gold Seal for Student Voting Rates

At the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, Wesleyan received a gold seal for achieving a student rate between 40% and 49%. A full list of seal awardees can be viewed here.

“Wesleyan University is proud to receive this national recognition for our efforts,” said Rob Rosenthal, interim provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs. “It is a core part of our educational mission to develop bold and rigorous practical idealists, thoughtful and brave participants in the public sphere. Our faculty, staff, administrators, and students are committed to working together to reduce apathy, increase engagement, and graduate students prepared to engage in civic participation throughout their lives.”

Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points, from 19% to 40%. Wesleyan’s data showed an increase by 30 points, from 17% to 47%.

“We are excited to honor Wesleyan University with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like Wesleyan University are changing culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus.

More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.

In 2018, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships was charged with voter registration and engagement. To prepare for the midterm elections, we launched a number of new initiatives to support student political engagement. We launched the Political Engagement Fund, and awarded 30 stipends for students to do campaign or political advocacy work locally or in their home states. We hosted Engage Today: Bridging the Ballot and the Block, a half-day conference highlighting local leaders activating voters on the ground, as well as students engaged in political activism on campus and beyond. And we continued to support student-led voter registration initiatives—including the WSA’s Storm the Dorms event. We are proud of the work put in by politically active students as they continue to make Wesleyan an Engaged University.

Students Receive Innovation Fund Grants from the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships

Musical Mentor Henry Hodder ‘20 works with two of his guitar students at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.

Musical mentor Henry Hodder ’20 works with two of his guitar students at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown. Hodder’s group, Cardinal Kids, is one of nine student ventures to receive grants from the JCPP Student Innovation Fund.

This spring, nine student ventures received grants from the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships (JCCP) Student Innovation Fund. These student efforts are representative of the JCCP’s commitment to cocreate mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

The Student Innovation Fund provides up to $750 for spring or summer projects that prioritize:

  • Collaboration between student groups, faculty/staff, and/or community partners.
  • Investigation of the impact of our civic engagement efforts.
  • Sharing of ideas and learnings in civic engagement on campus and beyond.

The recipients are:

Jessica Brandon ’20 and Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19
Adolescent Sexual Health Awareness (ASHA)

Due to the structural forms of racism that economically oppress people of color, volunteer opportunities are inherently restrictive. ASHA’s innovation seeks to investigate this barrier to the involvement of students of color in volunteer opportunities, as it is essential to the project of cultural competency for an educational organization to include members that represent the identities of many different students. The Student Innovation Fund will support their effort to make ASHA an inclusive and equitable organization.

Local Youth Learn How to Use Technology for Social Good at “Hackathon”

Thafir Elzofri ’19

Thafir Elzofri ’19, at left, assists Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. participants in Beckham Hall.

On Feb. 24, Wesleyan hosted a “hackathon” for social good in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. The free event introduced more than 50 local children in grades 4 through 8 to technology and showed them how it could be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. About half the children came from Middletown, while others came from as far away as Greenwich, Griswold and West Hartford to participate.

Seven Wesleyan students and two staff members served as volunteer mentors, working with the children to devise computer applications that addressed a range of problems facing local organizations. Five nonprofit social good organizations founded by Wesleyan students through the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship were the beneficiaries of these apps. Using MIT App Inventor, students learned the basics of app design, as well as the ideation and brainstorming process required to build a successful prototype mobile application.

Ahmed Badr ’20 gave a keynote address, in which he discussed Narratio, the platform he created for refugees to tell their stories.

Wesleyan Will Host Youth “Hackathon” for Social Good, Feb. 24

Wesleyan, in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr., is hosting a “hackathon” for social good for students in grades 4 through 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. This free event, to be held in Beckham Hall, will show local youth how technology can be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. The hackathon is open to the public and requires no prior coding experience.

“Participants will be working with Wesleyan student mentors to create technology for social good,” explained Patrice Gans, president and executive director of Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. “By the end of the day we hope they will see how technology can have a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Wesleyan Students, Staff Participate in Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project

On Nov. 21, Wesleyan students and staff helped stuff 1,000 boxes with everything families will need for a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

On Nov. 21, Wesleyan students and staff helped stuff 1,000 boxes with everything families will need for a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.

This fall, Wesleyan students and staff took part in the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Project, an annual collaborative effort to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. Wesleyan was one of 70 community partners for the project, led by Fellowship Church in Middletown. The university’s involvement in the project was coordinated by Cathy Lechowicz and Diana Martinez, director and assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.

MCTP 3For this year’s project, the Wesleyan community donated stuffing, gravy, pies and other foodstuffs; students and staff from the Allbritton Center helped register families at Amazing Grace Food Pantry from Oct. 31 to Nov. 18; students and staff, including the men’s crew and women’s lacrosse teams, helped with packing almost 1,000 boxes of food at Fellowship Church on Nov. 21; and staff from Wesleyan’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development helped distribute the food to Middletown residents in need on Nov. 22. The women’s lacrosse team also collected more than $600 to contribute to the project.

Students Help Local Residents Prepare for a Thanksgiving Day Feast

Fred Ayres '17 helps stock shelves at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown on Oct. 4. Ayers is one of several Wesleyan students and alumni who are volunteering at the food pantry this month.

Fred Ayres ’17 helps stock shelves at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown on Nov. 4. Ayers is one of several Wesleyan students and alumni who are volunteering at the food pantry this month in preparation for Thanksgiving. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On Nov. 24, dozens of low-income Middletown families will enjoy a Thanksgiving Day feast courtesy of a local food pantry and the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships at Wesleyan.

Fred Ayres helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayres, at right, helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1,075 households each month.

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 18, four Wesleyan students, three alumni and JCCP staff are hosting Middletown Community Thanksgiving Basket Project registration at Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown. Families who sign up will receive a baked turkey and traditional fixings on Thanksgiving Day.

In addition, the JCCP is hosting a Stuffing and Gravy Drive (jars or cans) from now until Nov. 18. Boxes are placed in North College, Usdan, Olin, Freeman Athletic Center and Allbritton. Wesleyan volunteers also will assist Middletown Police Department with a turkey drive on Nov. 18 and 19. They also hosted fill-a-bus events at local supermarkets on Nov. 5 and 6.

Volunteer Fred Ayres ’17, a neuroscience and economics double major, has served as an intern for the St. Vincent de Paul Middletown group, which includes Amazing Grace, throughout the fall semester. In addition to directly volunteering with families who shop at the pantry, he has also learned how Amazing Grace stocks their shelves, how they raise funds and collect donations,

Wesleyan, Middletown Community Members Vote at Beckham Hall April 26

For the first time this year, Wesleyan’s Beckham Hall served at Middletown’s District No. 14 polling location for the presidential primary election held on April 26. District No. 14 encompasses most of the Wesleyan campus as well most of downtown Middletown.

According to Cathy Lechowicz, director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, the District No. 14 polling location was at the Senior Center on Broad Street for many years. When the relocation and construction of a new Senior Center required the polling place to be moved, Middletown’s Registrar of Voters asked if Wesleyan would be willing to serve as the new location. With assistance and input of several offices on campus, Beckham Hall was identified as the best location. It will host a November election every year going forward, and may host one or two additional elections in April and/or in August or September.

Undergraduate and graduate students at Wesleyan have the option to vote via absentee ballot based on their home residence, or can choose to register in Middletown. Wesleyan’s Office of the Registrar maintains information on local voting.

Photos of the polling location in Beckham Hall are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.
Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.
Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.
Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.
Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.
Voting for the Primary Election in Beckham Hall, April 26, 2016.