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The Center for Hartford Engagement & Research & Trinfo


CHER strengthens educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College and Trinfo.Cafe is one of its five program members.

Student Research @ Trinfo.Cafe


Trinfo.Cafe continues to evolve as the needs in the community and at the College change. Over the last seven years, Trinfo has transformed into a conduit linking faculty and students with our community partners and creating avenues for our community partners to get access to college facilities and resources.

Trinfo’s work with faculty ranges from hosting classes and lectures at Trinfo to offering community learning site placements to students and collaborating on a variety of research projects with community partners. Each semester Trinfo staff supports several community learning classes, including courses across a variety of disciplines.

One such class is Hispanic Hartford, a core requirement in the Hispanic Studies department of Modern Languages. For almost a decade, Trinfo has supported the constant expansion of a website which houses information about resources in the Latino community, trains students on accessing the site to upload their blogs, and conducting a series of workshops at the end of each semester to prepare students for their final video projects. Students also do internships and independent studies at Trinfo and over the last four years, Trinfo has steered students to participate in the Community Learning Initiatives' Research Fellows program.  More information about the Research Fellows and other urban academic collaborations between Trinfo and student campus programs below:

Trinfo Student Research

Trinity students are not only a integral part of managing Trinfo’s operations and computer literacy programming, but they also conduct Hartford-based research through internships and independent studies. Starting in 2010, students began to work at Trinfo while conducting research in collab...

William Pollack’ 10, completed an independent study where after returning from a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile, he spent two semesters at Trinfo developing a computer literacy workshop for newly arrived immigrants and a customer satisfaction survey for all patrons taking computer literacy courses. In addition, Will used his time at Trinfo to conduct research for a comparative analysis on the approaches employed by Chile and the US to tackle the digital divide. His essay, Achieving Digital Inclusion: An Urban-Global Comparison of Digital Divide Programs in Chile and Hartford, illustrates how Trinfo is supporting student learning beyond community learning, by linking the experiences students are having abroad and giving them the platform to conduct comparative research, thus linking the urban and global missions of the college.
In the Spring 2011, Kendra Gedney ’11, interned at Trinfo where she taught computer literacy classes to residents after returning from a semester abroad in Lima, Peru. As an Economics major, Kendra worked with a local group in Lima who were developing micro-financing programs for residents of the city to start small businesses. The micro-finance concept is exploding throughout the developing world and Kendra wanted to explore if or how micro-finance was being employed in the United States by looking at how small businesses where using micro-finance to upgrade their technology in order to run more efficient businesses. To read more on her research click here – Kendra Gedney -Technology in Microfinance Paper.
Rachel Rios interned at Trinfo in the Fall of 2011 after returning from a semester in South Africa where as an Educational Studies major, she became fascinated with the educational reform movement which begun after the fall of South Africa’s apartheid government. While at Trinfo, Rachel taught multimedia programming developing videos to students in Bellizzi Middle School’s after-school program. For her academic component, Rachel wrote a comparative essay examining the historical role of educational inequality in the US and South Africa, and the reform efforts of each country to address the persistent challenges born from that inequality.
In the Fall of 2011, Pauline Lake began her 1-year research project for the Community Learning Research Fellows Program. Pauline developed an after-school program building applications for smart phones to get middle and high-school students interested in computer science using the software tool called AppInventor. Her research focused on specifically getting more students of color and females interested in computer science through the after-school program she developed for Trinfo.
Trinity College Courses & Trinfo


Trinfo.Cafe staff support faculty and students through Trinity courses that integrate a community learning component. These courses span a wide range of academic programs and departments. From individual class lectures on the history of Hartford and its neighborhoods to technical training on audio and video editing software, Trinfo staff add value to the Trinity student academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular experience.

Below are examples of a few of these courses:

This course for first semester freshmen, combines community learning and writing as a means of discovering how we define others and ourselves through journals, diaries, essays, and stories. Students explore Broad Street as a social and cultural metaphor, with a wide variety of readings depicting “the other” and reflecting the voices of members of underprivileged and privileged classes throughout history. Students perform community service as a part of course activities.

Have you ever wondered why some neighborhoods thrive and others appear to fail? Are you mystified about what can be done to stem deterioration and provide decent, affordable housing and clean and safe neighborhoods? One way to explore answers to these questions is to intern with a community-based organization dedicated to working with a community as it defines and responds to its problems. In this seminar each student will do a community learning project/ internship at such an organization in Hartford. Equally important is a way to understand and interpret your experiences at the organization. The rich theoretical literature that you will read in this seminar on how neighborhoods are organized and function and on models of community responses to neighborhood conditions provides a lens through which to evaluate your experiences with your organization and community.
This course seeks to place Trinity students in active and informed dialogue with the Hartford region’s large and diverse set of Spanish-speaking communities. The course will help student recognize and analyze the distinct national histories (e.g. Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Chilean, Honduran, Cuban, Colombian, and Mexican) which have contributed to the Hispanic diaspora in the city and the entire northeastern region of the United States. Students will undertake field projects designed to look at the effects of transnational migration on urban culture, institution-building, and identity formation. (Also offered under the Latin American and Caribbean studies concentration of the International Studies Program.)
In this course we will explore the major theories and principles of community psychology, a branch of psychology that explores how societal, cultural, and environmental factors impact people's psychological well-being. Topics will include community-based prevention of psychological disorders, health promotion, citizen participation and empowerment, the value of diversity, and the role of social support in buffering stress. We will also examine the goals and methods of community research, with an emphasis on the development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based programs. Given our proximity to numerous vibrant organizations in Hartford, this course requires that students participate in a community learning activity so that they may gain first-hand experience with community collaboration and put their classroom learning into practice. Enrollment limited.

     A comprehensive survey of global musical traditions that encompasses rural and urban music from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, India, Asia, and the Americas. This course is designed to highlight the central role of musical expression in human life, exploring musical sound and movement in sacred, secular, ritual, and non-ritual contexts. No previous musical knowledge is required. Students are expected to learn basic listening skills and identify musical styles. The course culminates in a final research project about a world music tradition, ensemble, performer, or other related topic. Also listed in International Studies-African studies, International Studies-Asian studies, and International Studies-Latin American and Caribbean studies.

This course investigates the education of Latinos, the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. By examining both the domestic and transnational contexts, we explore these central questions: How do cultural constructions of Latinos (as immigrants and natives, citizens and non-citizens) shape educational policy and teaching practices? What views of citizenship and identity underlie school programs such as bilingual education, as well as Latino responses to them? This course fulfills the related field requirement for Hispanic studies majors. It will also include a community learning component involving a qualitative research project in a Hartford school or community organization.

How do different community organizations (neighborhood groups, non-profit advocates, unions, government agencies, social entrepreneurs, philanthropies, etc.) envision social change? What strategies for change do we find across the City of Hartford? How can Trinity students cultivate and engage in meaningful partnerships to promote social change? Students will investigate these and related questions through readings on community action and social impact, hands-on research and interviews with community stakeholders in Hartford, and the design of collaborative social action projects around a core theme (to be implemented in the spring semester). Students will think critically and reflexively about the root causes of social problems, the ways that power and privilege shape social change work, and how their biographies shape their understanding of and engagement with Hartford.

Community Learning Initiative & Trinfo


Community Learning Initiative (CLI)

Trinity students are not only a integral part of managing Trinfo’s operations and computer literacy programming, but they also conduct Hartford-based research through internships and independent studies. Starting in 2010, students began to work at Trinfo while conducting research in collab...


At Trinity, the Community Learning Initiative (CLI) is defined as a type of experiential learning—an academic course in which the faculty member works in partnership with a person or group from the local community to involve students in an experience they could not get in the classroom alone. The learning goes both ways, as the students and community residents share knowledge.</p><p>Trinity has a long-standing commitment to community learning and serves as a model for other colleges and universities. CLI involves almost all of the College’s academic departments, more than 80 community organizations, and about half of our students. These students overwhelmingly report that participation in community learning increases both their understanding of course material and their awareness of needs in the community. It’s a natural way to connect with people you might not meet otherwise, develop a sense of civic responsibility, and gain the satisfaction of having a hand in creating solutions.

CLI Research Fellow Program & Trinfo


Community Learning Research Fellows is a program of the Community Learning Initiative (CLI) and work with Trinity faculty advisors to design and carry out a credit-bearing research or creative project in the Hartford area, in partnership with a community member or organizations (such as a school, non-profit agency, or local advocacy group). Projects can be part of a Trinity course, internship, independent study, or a senior thesis. Both student-initiated and student-faculty collaborative projects are welcome.
Trinfo staff support fellows in terms of their research work with their community partners. Several Trinfo student workers have become fellows since the program began in the fall of 2011.


Peruvian Identity: Peruvian Cuisine and its Impact in Hartford
Student Researcher: Andrea Chunga-Celis
Faculty Sponsor: Anne Lambright
Community Partner: Peruvian Consulate

App Inventor in the K-12 Computing Curriculum
Student Researcher: Pauline Lake
Faculty Sponsor: Ralph Morelli
Community Partner: Carlos Espinosa, Trinfo Café; Carlos Aldave, A.I. Prince Technical High School; Jack Baldermann, Hartford Public High School


Accessing Human Rights through Faith-based Social Justice and Cultural Citizenship: Hartford’s Low-income Latino Immigrants
Student Researcher: Sarah Kacevich
Faculty Sponsor: Janet Bauer
Community Partner: Jubilee House and Our Lady of Sorrows Parish


How Can We Collaborate? Moving Past Communication Dysfunction in Public School Communities
Student Researcher: Carlos Velazquez
Faculty Sponsor: Jack Dougherty
Community Partner: Rhodes Elementary School


Common Core Conversations in Connecticut: Analyzing Public Testimonies
Student Researcher: Richelle Benjamin
Faculty Sponsor: Rachel Leventhal-Weiner
Community Partner: Connecticut Parent Power


Building a Multicultural Center For the Immigrant Community of Asylum Hill
Student Researchers: Emy Farrow-German and Kaitlyn Sprague
Faculty Sponsor: Rasha Ahmed
Community Partner: Jennifer Cassidy, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association


Hartford:  A College City?
Student Researcher: Henry Chavez
Faculty Sponsor: Isaac Kamola
Community Partner: The Hartford Consortium for Higher Education
Liberal Arts Action Lab


Liberal Arts Action Lab

In the Liberal Arts Action Lab, Hartford community partners define problems facing the city, and collaborate with teams of students and faculty to research and publicly share possible solutions. The Action Lab is an educational partnership between Capital Community College and Trinity Coll...


A signature program at 10 Constitution Plaza will be the Liberal Arts Action Lab (LAAL), which brings together faculty and students from Trinity College and Capital Community College to collaborate in researching and addressing local challenges using a liberal arts lens to solve real-world problems.</p><p>The LAAL collaboration brings together teams of students, faculty, and Hartford community partners in order to strengthen the city, spark social innovation, and support civic engagement. Project-based teams work together on real-world problems posed by community partners to:<br />Research questions and develop possible solutions,<br />Share stories and findings more widely with digital tools,<br />Develop strategies to help partners become more sustainable<br />Through a matchmaking process, teams typically include a Hartford community partner (broadly defined as neighborhood groups, non-profit organizations, government agencies, social entrepreneurs, etc.), a faculty fellow, and four student researchers from Capital Community College and Trinity College. Each semester, about 20 students will earn academic credit for both their team project and the Action Lab course, taught by the Action Lab Director.</p><p>Beginning in September 2017, the Action Lab welcomes one-page proposals from prospective Hartford community partners for our inaugural project teams, who will begin work in January 2018 at our downtown campus, 10 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut.