2020 JCCP Student Innovation Fund Grantees Announced

This month, the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships announced the grantees of the JCCP Student Innovation Fund.

Students from a range of majors and backgrounds—all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community—applied to this fund. 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; and
  • Sharing of ideas and learnings in civic engagement on campus and beyond.

All student efforts are representative of the JCCP’s continued commitment to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.

This year’s Innovation Fund grantees are:

farmingMiddletown Urban Farming Symposium
by Syed Hussain ’21

The 2019 Middletown Urban Farming Symposium is a bold project that looks to build on the current local and national momentum around food justice. This symposium seeks to bring together disconnected but passionate forces in the local food justice movement: farmers (and prospective farmers/gardeners), municipal government officials, environmental and social justice activists, and Wesleyan students.

Musical Mentoring
by Mariel Baitenmann-Middlebrook ’20

A partnership between Oddfellows Playhouse and Cardinal Kids, this program provides individual music mentoring from a Wesleyan University student. These lessons are tailored to fit the individual needs of different learners, and the mentors work closely with their students to develop their musical skill and interest.

Day of Caring Event
by Shanté Hamilton John ’22

This is a one-day community event in the spring that would bring together faculty, staff, students, and community. Teams of volunteers will be organized to help community members with household projects such as yard work, painting, or cleaning.

I.C. Empowerment
by Ivie Uzamere ’21 and Camille Balicki ’21

I.C. Empowerment provides young women ages 14 to 18 with the opportunity for team collaboration, leadership development, self-discovery, and resources that promote growth and acquisition of life skills. The program consists of a partnership with Middletown High School, through which a free, after-school class offers numerous activities focused on leadership, life-skill resources, partnership with resources from Wesleyan, and team-building activities.

Partners for Rural Healthcare
by Livia Cox ’22 and Nick Wells ’20

The mission of Partners for Rural Healthcare is to promote the welfare of rural communities through dissemination of culturally cognizant educational materials and resources to those who otherwise lack its access, particularly with regard to opiate overdose. As a service-oriented nonprofit approved as a charitable organization through the state of Connecticut, Partners for Rural Healthcare is committed to combating substance abuse and overdose in local populations through sustainable and community-led educational efforts in conjunction with the distribution of supplies and reversing agents such as Narcan/Naloxone in the case of overdose.

Song from the Uproar
by Lisa Stein ’21, Sam Driver ’21, Manuel Perez (GRAD), Shiva Rumkumar ’22, Pau Rius ’20, and Emily Chackerian ’20

This group is producing a student-run modern opera at Wesleyan next semester, and will be collaborating with Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Programs, the Middletown High School Choral Department, and the Middlesex Community College acting classes for a Community Opera Workshop in order to expose young people to opera and bring together the Middletown and Wesleyan communities.

Restorative Justice Committee
by Emma Grinspoon ’22, Jessica Brandon ’20, Francesca Woodbridge ’20, Maggie Rothberg ’20, Polly Pierone ’20, Asiyah Herrero ’22, Jahnavi Mehta ’22, Gina Savoy ’20, Sydnie Rathe ’22

The RJ Committee will bring a speaker to campus who is an expert in restorative justice, and who can speak both to the history of restorative justice as a framework founded by women of color and also to concrete tools and methodologies to enact restorative justice and methods of accountability in campus spaces. The event will be open to all Wesleyan students and members of the greater Middletown community, with the hopes that dialogue can be built across differences.

Level Head/Level Up
by Inayah Bashir ’20

Inayah Bashir is working with five high school students to think about ways that they can effectively discuss and introduce healthy discussions about mental wellness to their school communities. They are planning a four-week seminar that brings together about 20 to 25 students and goes through a whole mental wellness workshop.

WESU Tiny Desk Concerts
Luke Green ’20

WESU will film, record, and play live performances on air of artists that come to the studio to play in front of a live studio audience, like an NPR Tiny Desk concert. They will be engaging the WESU audience and students, and attempting to highlight the talent of local artists and people who are largely ignored by the mainstream media, a pillar of WESU’s mission statement.

prep centerWesNEAT and the PREP Center
by Alphina Kamara ’22 and Emily McEvoy ’22

The Pursuing Re-Entry and Employment Possibilities (PREP) Center is a space for re-entry career mentorship for Middletown’s formerly incarcerated. Services include assistance in resume- and cover letter-writing, job search mentorship, and provision of free business-casual clothes.

Wesleyan IN-Reach
by Melisa Olgun ’20

The Wesleyan IN-Reach program is a collaboration between Wesleyan STEM laboratories and local Middletown schools. The program focuses on inviting first-generation and low-income students to shadow laboratories during a nine-week program during the summer. The program seeks to address the gap of pre-college programs for students, and hopes to give URM students an opportunity to see university-level research.