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CHER News, Urban Ed

It’s safe to say over the past month we have hit the ground running at CHER. Our students and faculty have begun applying for Action Lab project teams for 2019, taken a bus around the city to tour the history of discriminatory housing policies in Hartford, engaged in hard conversations about free speech on campus when it comes to race and gender, and Trinfo Cafe student workers have even launched an after school ecology curriculum. This is the type of community work that can only be done in partnership with Hartford organizations.

Take a look…

Action Lab Student and Faculty Applications Due Wednesday Oct. 24th

Last month the Liberal Arts Action Lab received 20 proposals from prospective Hartford community partners, and each described a research question or problem that they would like help in answering. Last week, the Hartford Resident Advisory Board reviewed all of the proposals and prioritized 6 to advance to the next stage. Depending on interest level, the Action Lab will support 4 project teams during the Spring 2019 semester.

  • Culinary Careers Project: Billings Forge Community Works asks for research to improve its training programs for entry-level food service workers to move into middle-income managerial jobs.

  • Neighborhood Needs Project: Southwest and Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) requests a community survey to better understand local needs and assets.

  • Student Success Project: West Indian Foundation asks for research to improve the integration of West Indian children and families into Hartford-area schools.

  • Colt Park Project: The National Parks Service and its Hartford partners seek a better model to estimate annual park usage and collect data about people’s experiences at Colt Park.

  • Latinx Theater Project: Hartford Stage requests local research with Hartford’s Latinx arts community to improve and expand their partnerships and programming.

  • Riverside Recapture Project: Riverfront Recapture asks for research with Hartford’s North End neighborhoods to guide their two-mile expansion of the Riverwalk trail system.

Students and faculty can learn more and apply online at

Community Learning in Hartford: Connecticut Fair Housing Center

In the video above, The Connecticut Fair Housing Center invited students in Professor Stefanie Chambers’ Urban Politics course to ride the bus and experience the Center’s “Hartford Fair Housing History Tour.” In turn, students are helping the Center to research and digitize archival materials to create a mobile-friendly digital version of the tour, in order to reach broader audiences. Fionnoula Darby-Hudgens of the CT Fair Housing Center says, “The purpose of the tour is to show how discriminatory policies have shaped our environment and contributed to the economic and racial segregation of our neighborhoods today… as a bus tour we can only reach small sets of people a few times a year, so we are building a digital tour and it’s Professor Chambers’ students who are collecting the artifacts and doing the research that will help tell this story in a digital format.”

Civic Engagement and Free Speech: Trin Talks

Last week, ConnPIRG and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement hosted the first “Trin Talk” of the semester, with the evening’s questions focused on social media and free speech. In the video above, student panelists of different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions share their thoughts on the use of social media, racist posts that went viral over summer break, and the responses they would like to see in the Trinity College community.

The topic of free speech on campus could not be more timely as we welcomed the Connecticut Supreme Court to Trinity’s campus October 17th. Two oral arguments took place in the Washington Room. In one of the cases, Central Connecticut State University student Austin Haughwout sued administrators after he was expelled for making statements and gestures related to guns and mass gun violence.  Mr. Haughwout claimed that the school violated his right to freedom of speech and is appealing from the trial court decision which upheld his expulsion.

Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy to Trinity College: Bea Dresser, ‘22

Bea Dresser ’22 is a current Trinity College student who attended the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Through Urban Educational Initiatives, a CHER program directed by Robert Cotto, Jr., HMTCA students have the opportunity to have an early college experience on Trinity’s campus. We asked Bea, “What do you like most about Trinity College so far?” She said, “I appreciate the resources and classes available at Trinity. I am currently in the Pre-Law Society, volunteering for Capitol Squash, and am working at the Trinfo Cafe. Additionally, I am taking interesting classes such as my political science course Prison and Justice in America… Whether it is outside or inside the classroom, I suggest that you pursue something that makes you want to work hard, and once you find that continue to be an innovative leader within that capacity.” Read the full interview here.

Trinfo Cafe Kicks Off After School Programming with OPMAD  (Organized Parents Make a Difference)

Last week, Trinfo cafe kicked off its after school programming with community partner, Organized Parents Make a Difference (OPMAD). Trinity student, Kayla Betts ‘21, is leading weekly after school media literacy workshops at Environmental Sciences Magnet School and Kennelly Elementary School. Over the course of this 8-week long program, Kayla will lead the students through lessons on ecology-related topics, culminating in a workshop on reducing carbon emissions in our homes and communities. Kayla said, “I love seeing the excited faces when explaining what the agenda will be for the class… It’s rewarding to be able to work with bright students that have so many questions. It is honestly my favorite part of the day.”

Join us October 28th!

Join us for the 29th Annual Halloween on Vernon Street on Sunday October 28th from 1:00-3:30PM. This family friendly celebration includes games, costumes, crafts, pumpkins, and candy!

Questions? Suggestions? Contact us at CHER.

Jack Dougherty, CHER Director

Erica Crowley, CHER Communications & Data Assistant

Joe Barber, Community Service and Civic Engagement

Megan Brown, Liberal Arts Action Lab

Robert Cotto Jr., Urban Educational Initiatives

Carlos Espinosa, Trinfo.Café

Megan Faver Hartline, Community Learning



Listening to Community Partners:
Key Takeaways from 2018 Focus Groups

In late summer 2018, we were pleased to have focus group participation by 21 of our Hartford-area community partners, representing 20 different non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups that had collaborated with Trinity students through various CHER programs (Community Learning, Community Service & Civic Engagement, Liberal Arts Action Lab, Trinfo.Cafe, and Urban Educational Initiatives). This report summarizes six key findings, from the positive direct benefits of community partnerships, to the need to improve two-way relationships between Hartford and Trinity, to mixed opinions about the overall impact of our work in the city. Read the full report here.

Apply for the Public Humanities Collaborative by January 31st

The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is currently accepting research proposals from Hartford-area community partners and Trinity faculty members pursuing humanities-based projects who are interested in hiring 2-4 student researchers during Summer 2019. PHC a component of Trinity College’s Summer Research Program that is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which brings together students, faculty, and individuals and organizations in Hartford to work on public humanities: the study of how people interpret stories of our human experience. Learn more about past projects and how you can apply here.

Common Hour Recap: Homelessness, Affordable Housing, and Housing Segregation

Last week, the Department of Public Policy and Law, the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, the Trinity Homelessness Project, and the Trinity Young Democratic Socialists organized a Common Hour event, “Addressing Homelessness and Affordable Housing in Connecticut” with guest speaker Erin Boggs of Open Communities Alliance. Erin discussed OCA’s work addressing the opportunity gap in Connecticut and her coalition work with partners around the state (such as the Christian Activities Council in Hartford). She also presented research on how homelessness and affordable housing policies reinforce the history of housing segregation and disinvestment in communities of color in our state. When Kyle Fields ‘21 of the Trinity Homelessness Project asked Erin, “What should we be doing to try and solve these huge problems?” Erin said, “One piece of this is to ensure there are affordable housing choices in higher opportunity areas, and the other piece is to do investments in the areas that are struggling.” Read the full blog post with a video recap here.

The Liberal Arts Action Lab Announces Digital Poster Fair December 10th and Spring 2019 Projects

Save the date for the Liberal Arts Action Lab Digital Poster Fair coming up on December 10th from 3:00-5:30PM at the Action Lab, 10 Constitution Plaza. Projects include:
  • Food Stories with the Connecticut Food System Alliance and Faculty Fellow Sarah Moon (University of Connecticut)

  • Opportunity Youth Project with Capital Workforce Partners and Faculty Fellow Alyson Spurgas

  • Homeownership Project with Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner and Faculty Fellow Vanessa de la Torre (WNPR CT Public Radio)

  • Sustainable Foods Project with the City of Hartford’s Office of Sustainabilityand Faculty Fellow Christoph Geiss

In September, the Liberal Arts Action Lab received 20 proposals from Hartford community partners that were voted on by the Hartford resident advisory board. The Liberal Arts Action Lab has formed 4 research teams for Spring 2019. The four teams for Spring 2019 are as follows:

  • Culinary Careers Project with Billings Forge and Faculty Fellow India Weaver, Capital Community College

  • Student Success Project with the West Indian Foundation and Faculty Fellow Cleo Rolle, Capital Community College

  • Latinx Theater Project with Hartford Stage and Faculty Fellow Diana Aldrete, Trinity College

  • Riverside Recapture Project with Riverfront Recapture and Faculty Fellow Stefanie Chambers, Trinity College

To read the full project descriptions, read the blog post here.

HMTCA-Trinity Academic Collaboration

Proposals Due December 14th

Over the years, there has been increased interest for supporting innovative projects to benefit students at both HMTCA and Trinity College. All proposals must include and benefit both HMTCA and Trinity students. Preference will be given to projects that also include both HMTCA and Trinity faculty/staff, and include multicultural and/or multilingual education. View the proposal guidelines here and submit your short proposal to cover expenses (<1000 words) via e-mail to by December 14th, 2018.

Take a look back at the 29th Annual
Halloween on Vernon Street!

On the Sunday before Halloween, Trinfo.Cafe, Trinity Greek life organizations and cultural houses such as Umoja House and La Voz Latina opened their doors on Vernon Street to provide games, candy, and music for families in the Hartford area. Volunteers organized by ACES (the Annual Community Events Staff) and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement showed families the circuit around Vernon Street, ending at the pumpkin patch at Trinfo Cafe. Check out our full blog post here.

Join us for the Cranksgiving Bike Race
on Saturday November 17th

This is an annual bike race collecting grocery items to benefit the Grace Episcopal Food Pantry in Hartford, 55 New Park Avenue. Bring $20 to purchase items, your bike, a helmet, a lock, friends, and a backpack to carry food items. If you do not have a bike, don’t worry! Bikes can be provided if we are notified ahead of time you will need one. See the Facebook event here and register ahead at

Don’t Miss This:
Community Open Mic Night on Thursday Nov. 29th!

Trinfo.Cafe, Iron Poets, and the Mill are collaborating to present a Community Open Mic Night! Come showcase your music, storytelling, comedy or poetry in a supportive environment. This event is FREE and open to the public. All are welcome. The crowd here wants you to do your thing and have a good time! Join us on Thursday 11/29, 6:00-8:00PM at Trinfo.Cafe, 1300 Broad Street. Sign up to perform upon arrival, or email to sign up in advance. Be sure to bring friend and share our Facebook event here.

Questions? Suggestions? Contact us at CHER.

Jack Dougherty, CHER Director

Erica Crowley, CHER Communications & Data Assistant

Joe Barber, Director, Community Service and Civic Engagement

Beatrice Alicea, Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program Coordinator

Megan Brown, Director, Liberal Arts Action Lab

Morgan Finn, Communications and Program Assistant, Liberal Arts Action La

Robert Cotto Jr., Director, Urban Educational Initiative

Carlos Espinosa, Director, Trinfo.Cafe

Megan Faver Hartline, Associate Director, Office of Community Learning