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It has been a busy few months at CHER! During the COVID-19 pandemic we launched two new initiatives: engaging students, staff, and faculty in remote volunteering and employing students in storytelling projects about their pandemic experiences. In recent weeks we have also reflected on Trinity students’ experiences of racism and sexual violence on campus and identified ways that our community engagement work can respond. Additionally, we’d like to announce important staffing transitions in CHER. Read through the highlights below, and be sure to contact us with any questions or ideas.

Staffing Goodbyes

It is with a heavy heart and deep gratitude that we say goodbye to three of our amazing CHER colleagues. We are thankful to have worked with them, and wish them all the best in the next stages of their careers!

  • Megan Faver Hartline, Director of Community Learning, accepted a tenure-track faculty position with a focus on community engagement in the English Department at UT-Chattanooga.

  • Megan Brown, Director of the Liberal Arts Action Lab, accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN.

  • Ari Basche, former Program Manager of Trinfo & Community Relations, left her role in June to pursue a Master’s in English at UConn.

Staffing Hellos

Erica Crowley Promoted to Director of Community Learning
CHER is excited to announce that Erica Crowley, CHER’s current Communications and Data Assistant, will be promoted to Director of Community Learning, effective August 5, 2020. Erica joined the CHER team in August 2018, bringing valuable skills as a community organizer and communications professional. Since that time, she has led us in developing and carrying out a communications plan that effectively “tells our stories,” and has also continued to build on her strong relationships with Hartford partners. Erica holds a Master’s of Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing from the University Connecticut and currently serves on the Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women and participates in Mutual Aid Hartford. In her new role as Director of Community Learning, Erica will direct the Community Action Gateway program and continue the crucial work of guiding faculty and students in meaningful academic engagements with Hartford partners.

CHER Welcomes Abby Williamson as Director
On July 1, the CHER team also welcomed Abby Fisher Williamson (right), Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law as the new CHER Director. In addition to her community-engaged research and teaching on immigration and health policy, Abby brings training and experience in strategic management, fundraising, and evaluation to the position. While at Trinity, she has served as a Faculty Fellow in the Liberal Arts Action Lab and taught community learning courses, including PBPL 351: “Diversity in the City.” In that course, fifteen students examined how cities have responded to diverse newcomers, and served as short-term research assistants on this topic for local organizations. We are looking forward to Abby’s leadership in this role!

Hearing @BlackatTrin, @TrinSurvivors, and the Umoja Coalition

In recent weeks, CHER has reflected on Trinity students’ experiences of racism and sexual violence highlighted by @BlackatTrin and @TrinSurvivors, and the comprehensive lists of demands released by the Umoja Coalition (a coalition of Black student organizations) and TrinSurvivors. We are seeing, hearing, and feeling students’ pain deeply, and we unequivocally affirm that Black lives matter and we believe survivors. We value the strong presence of BIPOC students in CHER and will strive to make our programs a welcoming space. After carefully reviewing students’ experiences and demands, we have identified concrete action steps that align with our mission of strengthening educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and Trinity students, staff, and faculty. Our recommendations can be read here.

Our Covid Stories

This Spring, CHER invited Trinity College students to submit stories about the COVID pandemic to deepen our understanding of different people’s experiences of this crisis, and how communities have responded. Connection and community have been critical during this difficult period, and we have been honored to connect student storytellers with CHER staff editors at a time when so many of us have been disconnected from the Trinity community. Read through the stories on our website here.

Virtual Volunteering

In the Spring semester, many campuses, including Trinity, moved to remote classes due to COVID, and faculty and staff have been encouraged to work from home. This has required us to come up with entirely new ways to be civically engaged. This Spring we were so impressed with the willingness of our students and faculty to jump into action by sending in read-aloud stories, providing tech and web help to partners, sending thank you cards to essential employees, and more. Read about the program in Bhumika Choudhary ‘18’s piece here.

Fall Reopening

Trinity intends to welcome students back to campus in September, closely following official health guidelines. The College will release further guidance on policies and CHER will continue to update community partners. More on Trinity’s reopening plans can be found here at

CHER Director: Abby Williamson
CHER Communications & Data Assistant: Erica Crowley
Community Learning Director: Megan Faver Hartline
Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber
Community Service and Civic Engagement Assistant Director: Beatrice Alicea
Liberal Arts Action Lab Director: Megan Brown
   Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn
Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa
HMTCA-Trinity Partnership Director: Robert Cotto Jr.



Welcome to the CHER September Newsletter! We send out an e-newsletter to keep the campus and community updated about what we’re doing here in the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research at Trinity College (CHER😎). Take a look at some important information below and contact us with any questions.

Hartford Community Engagement During COVID

CHER’s mission continues to focus on strengthening educational partnerships between Trinity and the Hartford community. Due to the pandemic, CHER’s efforts will take a different form during Fall 2020.  With the well-being of the Hartford community in mind, CHER’s community engagement activities will be largely online, rather than in person. Specifically:
  • All off-campus Trinity-sponsored engagements by students must have specific academic or co-curricular purposes, be approved by the College, and be supervised by a Trinity faculty or staff member. During all activities participants will be 6 feet apart while wearing masks. These engagements will be extremely limited, especially in the first few weeks of the Fall semester.
  • To ensure the health and safety of the Hartford and campus community, there will be no on-campus visitors, with the exception of essential visiting personnel, through September 20th. After that date, outside groups may be allowed on campus on a limited basis with approval. Approvals will be considered when the College has developed an understanding of how the virus may be affecting the community. If you are a community partner working with students this semester, meetings must occur via phone, Zoom, or another online platform at least through September 20th, and likely beyond.
  • Trinfo Cafe will reopen Monday, September 21, to allow access to internet and office resources, but without additional events.
  • The Liberal Arts Action Lab is paused for Fall 2020 and is currently not hosting visitors or booking events. For questions on the Lab, please contact Morgan Finn at
  • Additional information on the College’s reopening policies can be found at For questions on CHER’s programming during the pandemic, please contact Abby Fisher Williamson.

Staying Connected to the Community: Remote Volunteering Database

In response to the evolving needs of both the Trinity and Hartford communities, CHER is excited to announce that we are revamping our Remote Volunteering Database! Community partners can share their opportunities with the campus community. Students, faculty, and staff can submit their skills and ideas. CHER team members will then match potential volunteers with partners based on the results. Phone or online engagements are preferred since most student engagement will be remote; staff and faculty may be able to participate in person. Examples of remote volunteering from Spring 2020 can be found here.

We’re Hiring: Program Manager, Trinfo Café & Office of Community Relations

Come work with us! The Office of Community Relations and the Trinfo.Café seek applications for a Program Manager position to begin in September 2020. Candidates must be fluent in Spanish. Apply here.

Announcing the Fall 2020 Community Learning Research Fellows

The Center for Hartford Engagement & Research is pleased to announce the 2020 Community Learning Research Fellows! In this competitive program, a group of select students with previous community engagement experience will design and execute remote research projects in collaboration with Hartford community partners and faculty sponsors, with guidance from Colloquium instructor Laura Holt and Teaching Assistant James Jeter.

  • Alli Futter ‘23 and faculty sponsor Susan Masino – 2 Your Health Alternative Addiction Treatment
  • Malika Buscaino ‘23, Wendy Salto ‘22 and faculty sponsor Julie Gamble – Commission for Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA)
  • Bea Dresser ‘22 and faculty sponsor Ben Carbonetti – CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Brenda Piedras ‘21 and faculty sponsor Abigail Williamson – National Association of Community Health Workers
  • Kevin Torres ‘21 and faculty sponsor Garth Myers – Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA)

Trinity Continues Virtual Tutoring and Mentoring
with Hartford Students

The Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program is excited to return for the second year of its 3-year cohort this fall. This year students will be welcomed virtually, with online homework help and activities to further develop the existing mentor-mentee relationships. “This year has been far from normal,” said Beatrice Alicea, Assistant Director of Community Service and Civic Engagement. “We are grateful to be able to reconnect our mentors and mentees and bring some consistency and support during a time of unexpected change.” Trinity students who are interested in becoming a tutor or mentor can also find opportunities here.

Growing Relationships at Trinfo Café’s
Community Garden

Trinfo.Café’s community garden received repair and renovation this summer thanks to crowdfunding by Professor Susan Masino and the Simsbury Grange and a matching grant from Sustainable CT Community Match Fund. Hartford community gardeners and Trinity students, faculty, and staff will be able to come together to garden in new raised beds with replenished soil and basic supplies for safe outdoor gardening. Read more here.

‘Feeding 2020 Initiative’ Delivers Meals to Hartford Families

Since the surge of the COVID pandemic in Connecticut in mid-March, many Hartford area families have experienced exacerbated food insecurity. To respond, Trinity’s dining service partner Chartwells, the Office of Spiritual & Religious Life, Moral Monday CT and others in the Hartford and Trinity community have partnered to deliver hot meals to families twice per week. Thank you Assistant Dean of Students John Selders, former Chaplain Allison Read, Moral Monday CT co-founder Pamela Selders, Chartwells District Manager Tony Chenette, as well as Joe Barber, Erica Crowley, Carol Montesi, Professor Stefanie Wong, Craig and Jose at McKinney Shelter, Miss Pat at the Teacher’s Village, Lilly Herrera and others members of our community! Read more about the initiative in this article by Emma Sternberg ‘20.

Community Service Office Supports SINA School Supply Drive

Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement kicked off the school year by teaming up with SINA for their school supply drive! With donations from Trinity College, Hartford Hospital, and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the drive provided backpacks with school supplies for 105 students and school supply kits for another 20 children who live in Frog Hollow. Thanks to Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement for leading this campaign on campus and to the Track and Field Team and Athletes of Color Coalition for their donations. A special thank you to Elisa Griego from the Austin Arts Center, who made face masks for each of Trinity’s backpacks, and to Assistant Track and Field Coach Bill Morgan for his generous financial contribution to support this effort. Photo by SINA.

Race and Schools: List of Talks and Programs 2020-21

Looking for more information about race in schools? Check out this informal list of online talks and programs compiled by Trinity’s Robert Cotto Jr., director of the HMTCA partnership and DEI Fellow, and co-author Stefanie Wong, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies. This resource includes upcoming events in September 2020 and will be updated regularly throughout the school year. Today’s lineup includes an anti-racism webinar for current and future teachers and a virtual public forum on racism and equity.

Liberal Arts Action Lab: Update on programming and events

The Liberal Arts Action Lab is paused for Fall 2020 due to the pandemic. For now, you can find the exciting results from last semester’s projects here. For questions on the Lab, please contact Morgan Finn at

Public Humanities Collaborative Explores Digital Tools in Remote Work

This summer, Trinity’s Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC), a component of the Summer Research Program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, went fully remote. Students worked creatively with faculty and Hartford community partners on archival research, oral history interviewing, digital storytelling, story mapping, exhibit planning, social media engagement, website construction, and more. As an enrichment to their field experience, students also attended weekly lunch-and-learn workshops focused on careers in the humanities, using digital tools, and broader issues like ethical approaches to research and community projects. Read more about the PHC here.

CHER Director: Abby Williamson
Community Learning Director: Erica Crowley
Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber
Community Service and Civic Engagement Assistant Director: Beatrice Alicea
Liberal Arts Action Lab Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn
Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa
HMTCA-Trinity Partnership Director: Robert Cotto Jr.



Welcome to the CHER February Newsletter! Each month, we send out an e-newsletter to keep the campus and community updated about what we’re doing here in the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research at Trinity College (affectionately known as CHER😎). Over the past month we’ve visited student workers at Trinfo Café, reopened the Trinity VITA Tax Clinic, taking HMTCA students bowling, and celebrated the power of women. Take a look at our highlights below, and be sure to contact us if you are interested in collaborating.

Tulsi Sumukadas ‘20 Receives a #CHERShoutout for Leadership at Trinfo Café and Community Service!

When you see Tulsi Sumakadas ‘20 around campus, be sure to say congratulations! Tulsi was chosen this month for a #CHERShoutout due to her Hartford engagement work as the new coordinator of student-led community events at Trinfo Café, volunteer work with the Trinity Homelessness Project, and more fantastic work as a Health Fellow and with the Biology Club on campus and in Hartford. Tulsi said, “One of the reasons that I wanted to work at Trinfo and get involved in community service was to make sure I had opportunities to get off campus. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to organize an event and reach out to a lot of different groups. Also, helping the clients here is more than just answering a five minute question. I helped a woman a few months in a row who needed assistance with her resume, then a job application, and then she ended up getting the job and I helped her with the paperwork she needed to start. So it’s been really nice to spend time with people and make a bigger difference.

Trinity VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo.Café Reopens for 2020

Tax season is here, and the Trinity VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo.Café is open now through April 15th Located at 1300 Broad Street, next to the Trinity College campus and the Learning Corridor. This Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinic is one of several in Hartford sponsored by the United Way. VITA offers free income tax preparation services to households generally with incomes of $55,000 or below, persons with disabilities, and taxpayers who speak languages other than English. Professor Serena Laws and students enrolled in her “POLS 310: Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” Community Learning course have been trained as tax preparers. Make an appointment calling 2-1-1 or by going online to The Trinity VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo.Café is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm, and Fridays from 10am to 5pm.

Community Partners: Submit a Proposal to the Liberal Arts Action Lab by Friday 2/28

Got an idea about how to strengthen Hartford? The Liberal Arts Action Lab invites Hartford community partners to submit a 3-paragraph proposal on a problem or question that you’d like help answering with a team of student and faculty researchers from Capital Community College and Trinity College in Fall 2020. After review by the Action Lab, your proposal will publicly appear online to help us match you with interested faculty fellows and students. Any neighborhood group, non-profit organization, government agency, or social entrepreneur, large or small, is encouraged to submit a proposal by Tuesday February 28th, and we will contact you after the Hartford Resident Advisory Board prioritizes proposals in early March. Apply here and contact with any questions.

Community Action Gateway Starts Spring Research Projects

After last semester’s successful video projects, students in the Community Action Gateway are starting semester-long research projects with four community partners: Sexual Assault Crisis ServicesMake the Road CTCompass Peacebuilders, and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women. Each of these groups have asked students to conduct research with them and help them present their findings to a larger audience. Pictured above, Caroline Killian ’23, Tiana Sharpe ’23, and Camm Mattison ’23 attend a meeting with community partners at Hartford City Hall. Read more about their projects here.

 JZ-AMP Mentors and HMTCA Middle-School Mentees Go Bowling Together

Last weekend, Trinity student mentors and HMTCA middle school mentees in the Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring program took a field trip to go bowling together! In addition to their after-school tutoring and life skills coaching, the mentees also participate in enrichment activities like this throughout the year. This year, they’ll be continuing their tech skills series over at Trinfo Café. Read more about JZ-AMP’s collaboration with CHER programs here.

JELLO Community Service Club Volunteers at Second Saturdays at The Wadsworth Atheneum and Amistad Center for Arts & Culture

Last weekend, JELLO Community Service students were busy yet again! They spent time volunteering at the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Amistad Center for Arts & Culture for the free programs on  Second Saturdays for Families. Needless to say, the collage-making station was incredible! See more photos here.

Trinity’s Women & Gender Resource Action Center Visits with Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) Young Women’s Club

Earlier this month, Laura Lockwood, the Director of Trinity College’s Women & Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC) visited HMTCA students. Working with Trinity College alumna Mel Cavanaugh ’11 and HMTCA history teacher, Laura visited with the school’s Young Womens Club to discuss what a “women’s center” looks like as well as issues around consent and sexual violence after they had watched film “The Hunting Ground.” Read Robert Cotto Jr.’s interview with Laura here.

Trinity’s “50 For The Next 50” Event Recognizes Many Women Involved in Hartford

On February 7th, as part of the “Women at the Summit” commemoration of the 50th anniversary of coeducation, Trinity College honored a group of 50 women who will have a lasting impact on the college for the next 50 years. CHER congratulates all of the honorees! Not coincidentally, we also note that many of the women selected for this award also have dedicated countless hours to building meaningful relationships between Trinity and Hartford. See all the honorees and their bios here.

Abby Williamson Named Next CHER Director
We are pleased to announce that Abby Williamson, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Law, will be the next director of the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) beginning in September 2020. Professor Jack Dougherty, the inaugural CHER Director, will be stepping down from his two-year term as scheduled. Congratulations to Abby!

Applications Due Wed Feb 26th: Liberal Arts Action Lab  and CT Data Collaborative are hiring a paid Nonprofit Data & Technology Consulting Intern for Summer 2020.

Free Workshop Wed Feb 26th: “What is a Healthy Relationship?” An interactive workshop and paint night about healthy relationships to bring awareness to domestic violence. Co-Sponsored by Trinfo Café, Alpha Chi Omega, and YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Service. 6:30–8:00 p.m. Trinfo Café, 1300 Broad Street. Free and open to the public.

Free Lunchtime Lecture Fri Feb 28th: Free lunchtime lecture: “Frontiers in Historical GIS, the Geohumanities, and Narrative Visualization” by Professors Anne Kelly Knowles (University of Maine) and LaDale Winling (Virginia Tech), 12-1pm at the Liberal Arts Action Lab, 10 Constitution Plaza. Co-sponsored by UConn, Capital Community College, and Trinity College. View the entire program. Free and open to the public. Lunch provided: first come, first served.

Free Event Fri Feb 28th: Trinfo BINGO: Join us for BINGO night! Delicious food and prizes for the winners. Free and open to the public. Co-Sponsored by Trinfo Café and the Office of S.A.I.L. 6:00–7:30 p.m. Trinfo Café, 1300 Broad Street. Free and open to the public.

Weds March 4th: Blood Drive 10am-3:30pm, Washington Room, Mather Student Center. Sign up for a time slot in-person in Mather Hall during lunch week of Feb 24th or e-mail

Free Workshop Fri March 6th: “Writing Strategies For Strengthening Community Partnerships” with Dr. Erin Brock Carlson. Are you interested in learning more about how to use writing strategies to strengthen your community partnerships? To create a broader impact on the community? Join us for a workshop focused on how to use many types of writing to meet your goals. 11am-3pm, Liberal Arts Action Lab in Downtown Hartford (10 Constitution Plaza). Open to the public, and designed for higher education faculty, staff, and community partners. RSVP here.



Welcome to the CHER January 2020 Newsletter! Each month, we send out an e-newsletter to keep the campus and community updated about what we’re doing here in the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research at Trinity College (affectionately known as CHER😎). Over the winter break we’ve been out volunteering around the city, preparing for the Spring 2020 semester’s Community Learning courses, getting ready to re-open the VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo Café, prepping for five Liberal Arts Action Lab Hartford research projects, and much more! Take a look at the highlights below, give us a follow on social media👇, and be sure to contact us if you’re interested in working together. Happy New Year!


Our first #CHERShoutout of 2020 Goes to the January Week of Service!

Here’s our first official #CHERShoutout because the January Week of Service was a success! This past week, a group of Trinity students in the JELLO Community Service Club came back to campus early to complete a week of community service projects with partner organizations around Hartford, including the Church of the Good Shepherd, Night Fall, Cinestudio, Place of Grace Food Pantry, Habitat ReStore, and Knox. Congratulations to Brooke Agro, Alison Cofrancesco, Hanifa Darwish, Amelia Huba, Amodini Katoch, Sarah Kennedy, Eve Pollack, Jonah Silverglade, and Emily Wertheimer! Stay tuned for twice monthly shoutouts about students, staff, faculty, teams, and community partners who are doing great work in Hartford. See more photos from the JELLO Week of Service here.


Faculty and Community Partners: Apply for the Summer 2020 Public Humanities Collaborative by Friday January 31st

Are you interested in working on an oral history collection, interactive website, community discussion, exhibit, educational curriculum, or public performance? Do you need a team to help you? The Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) is currently accepting research proposals from Trinity faculty as well as Hartford area individuals and organizations pursuing humanities-based projects who are interested in employing 2-4 student researchers during Summer 2020. Students work approximately 15 hours a week on projects such as an oral history collection, interactive website, community discussion, exhibit, public performance, etc. and another 15 hours a week with faculty on their humanities-oriented scholarship (such as journal articles, book chapters, or digital remediations of projects). To learn more and submit a proposal visit or contact More information about student applications is coming soon.


Free Tax Help Available! The Trinity VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo Café Opens January 30th

Tax season is here, and the Trinity VITA Tax Clinic at Trinfo Café will open on January 30th! This weekend, students in Senior Lecturer in Political Science Serena Laws’ “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” course will be trained as IRS-certified tax preparers to get ready for the re-opening of the clinic at Trinfo Café, located at 1300 Broad Street, Hartford. The tax clinic is one of several Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations in Hartford sponsored by the United Way. VITA generally serves households with incomes of $55,000 or below, persons with disabilities, and taxpayers who speak languages other than English. Appointments can be made starting in January by calling 2-1-1 or by going online to [Photo by Nick Caito]. VITA at Trinfo is open the following days and times starting 1/30:

  • Tuesdays 10:00am-2:00pm
  • Thursdays 10:00am-2:00pm
  • Fridays 10:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturdays 10:00am-2:00pm


HMTCA Students Visit Cinestudio at Trinity College

On December 20, 2019, HMTCA students visited Trinity College’s on-campus movie theater, Cinestudio. Along with their science teacher and Trinity alumna, Zuleyka Shaw, students viewed the film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Thanks to Mrs. Shaw for the great photo!


Student Leadership Initiative Continues at Trinfo Café: Stay Tuned for Spring 2020 Community Events

These days, there’s always something happening at Trinfo.Café. Last year Trinfo.Café began its student leadership initiative as part of a commitment to establishing Trinfo as a broader use community space. In addition to greeting community guests, teaching computer literacy, and offering drop-in tech help, Trinfo.Café student workers are taking on the task of independently organizing free public events for the Trinity and Hartford community. Last year’s events included TrinfoBingo, yoga, LGBTQ+ movie night, community discussions, open mic night, community garden meetings, and more. Stay tuned for the lineup of Spring 2020 events!


Trinity & Capital’s Liberal Arts Action Lab Hosts Five Hartford Research Teams for Spring 2020

From the fifteen proposals submitted by Hartford community partners, the Liberal Arts Action Lab has formed five research teams for Spring 2020. These project teams will focus on a diverse set of issues facing Hartford: telling the story of Hartford’s first black church, understanding neighborhood communications, researching treatment approaches for opioid addiction, and identifying workforce development barriers for community health workers providing care to folks living with HIV. Read more about the proposed projects here.



CHER Director: Jack Dougherty

CHER Communications & Data Assistant: Erica Crowley

Community Learning Associate Director: Megan Faver Hartline

Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber

JZ-Academic Mentoring Program Coordinator: Beatrice Alicea

Liberal Arts Action Lab Director: Megan Brown

Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn

Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa

Program Manager: Arianna Basche

Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) Partnership Director: Robert Cotto Jr.


It’s been a busy September here at CHER!  New faculty are workshopping ideas for Community Learning courses across disciplines, Community Action students are learning about social change, video creation, and community organizing with their Hartford partners, Research Fellows are taking a deep dive into community based research methods, and more! Take a look below at a few of our September highlights, and if you or your organization are interested in partnering with Trinity College CHER programs, be sure contact us.

Newer Trinity Faculty Design Community Learning Courses

Please join the Community Learning program in celebrating the Trinity College faculty who will be part of the 2019-20 Community Learning Faculty Fellows program! This program was created to support faculty in developing teaching connections with Hartford community partners. Courses range from rhetoric, to public policy, economics, and studio arts. Congratulations to Elise Castillo, Rachel Moskowitz, Ibrahim Shikaki, and Lynn Sullivan. Read more about their courses here.

Community Learning Research Fellows Work With Hartford Partners

We are proud to announce the 2019 Community Learning Research Fellows! This is a competitive program that allows selected students with previous community engagement experience to challenge their learning and perspective by taking on a research or creative project with a Hartford community partner. Fellows will spend their semester collaboratively designing and executing their research projects which cover topics like education funding policy, maternal mortality, ESOL programs, gun violence prevention, national park usage, sexual health education, and child care programs. Read one-paragraph summaries of their projects here. 

Partners Visit Campus to Start Projects with First-Year Community Action Students

This Fall, Professor Stefanie Wong is instructing the Community Action Gateway “Envisioning Social Change.” Through the Fall semester, their assignments will give them an introduction to Hartford: they’ll attend off campus events, visit new places in Hartford, and try out riding the bus around the City. Most importantly, they’ll get to meet and work with community partners at Public Allies CT, the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Night Fall, Make the Road CT, and the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice  to create 1-minute videos. Read more about their work here.

Trinity Do-It Day with Students and Employees

Earlier this month, Trinity celebrated the 21st Annual Do-It Day where over 350 students from Trinity Athletic teams and student groups were placed with 18 different organizations across the City. We caught up with a few of the teams throughout the day– Men’s Swimming was loading furniture for Journey Home, the JELLO Community Service Organization was sanding, priming and cleaning at Place of Grace Food Pantry, Women’s Softball was cleaning up at Bushnell Park, Trinity Employees at Camp Courant, and more. Overall, the 21st Annual Do-It Day was another big success, thanks to our community partners, Trinity Athletics, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, Office of Community Relations, and the Exempt and Non-Exempt Staff Councils. Read more about the 21st Annual Do-It Day and Employee Do-It Day on our blog.

Submit Proposals to Liberal Arts Action Lab by September 30th

The Action Lab is diving into this semester while preparing for the next. The educational partnership is now accepting proposals for Spring 2020 projects until 9/30, and Hartford community partners are encouraged to read more and apply at  As they’re accepting potential projects for next semester, this semester’s Liberal Arts Action Lab teams have hit the ground running! This week, students are establishing group norms and exploring questions like, “What is the role of research in social change?” as they begin designing their research projects. Through the Fall semester, teams will work to answer the following questions proposed by community partners:

  • SINA: Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance asks for research on the prevalence of absentee-owned, small multi-family properties in the south end to help them strategize about community development plans.

    • Students: Michael Serrano (CCC), Lena Wright (CCC)

  • Active City asks for research about who is and is not participating in organized youth sports in Hartford, hopeful that the information with help them increase participation in organized youth sports and facilitate the development of effective initiatives.

    • Students: Gayler Grace (CCC), Lily Everett (TC ‘20), Erick Peña (TC ‘20), Katie Marlow-Bendick (TC ‘20)

  • CT Coalition to End Homelessness asks for help updating their curriculum and improving their outreach to schools about the estimated 5,000 youth who are experiencing homelessness in the state.

    • Students: Karolina Barrientos (TC ‘22), Clare Donohoe (TC ‘22), Clare Blanchard (TC ‘22), Jeremiah Rodriguez (CCC)

  • Lilly Sin Barreras asks for retrospective research on what went well and what went wrong during the relocation of refugees from Hurricane Maria to Hartford.

    • Students: Christian Gardner (CCC), Maria Martinez (TC ‘22), Olivia Painchaud (TC ‘21)

Trinity-HMTCA Partnership Expands

The start of the school year marked the start of plans for an expanded Early College program at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA), thanks to a new 10-year partnership agreement between Hartford Public Schools and Trinity College. Approved earlier this summer by the Hartford Board of Education, the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lays out plans to expand programming for public high school students on the Trinity campus, increase partner engagement through a new advisory committee, and provide professional development for staff to strengthen their cultural competency. Read more here.

Join us on September 26th for an Open Lecture by Anthony Jack, Author of “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students.” This event will be held in the Washington Room in Mather Student Center and seating is first come first serve. See details here.

CHER Advisory Board Welcomes New Members

The CHER team is excited to welcome new members for the 2019-20 Advisory Board. The CHER Advisory Board consists of Hartford residents, Trinity faculty & staff, and CHER program leaders who provide feedback about current efforts and offer guidance on future directions for CHER. We are excited to welcome Hartford resident Stacey Lopez ‘11, faculty members Aidalí (Lay) Aponte-Avilés and Rebecca Pappas. Read more about the CHER Advisory board here.

Save the Date: Halloween on Vernon Street Sunday October 27th 1-3:30pm. Trick or treating, games, activities, family friendly.

MOCA Community Cookout at Trinfo.Café. September 29th 2-5pm at 1300 Broad Street. Sponsored by Men of Color Alliance (MOCA), Alpha Pi Kappa, and Trinfo Cafe.

TrinfoBingo. October 4th 5:30-7:30pm at Trinfo Café 1300 Broad Street. Sponsored by S.A.I.L. and Trinfo Café.



Welcome to the CHER December Newsletter!  Over the past few months we’ve presented community-based research, created print and digital materials for Hartford organizations, helped residents stay warm during the winter months, and engaged students of all ages in theater & dance Community Learning collaboration. At the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research at Trinity College our mission is to strengthen educational partnerships with students, faculty, staff, and the Hartford community. If you are interested in getting involved or partnering with CHER programs, be sure to contact us.

Community Learning Research Fellows Present Hartford Projects

Last week, Hallden Hall was buzzing with Trinity students, faculty, staff and Hartford community partners as ten of our Community Learning Research Fellows presented the results of their semester long projects. Throughout the semester they have worked closely with Professor Laura Holt, TA Samantha McCarthy ’21, Community Consultant James Jeter, and Trinity faculty advisors to design and execute community-based research projects in partnership with Hartford organizations. The projects were wide-ranging: Community College Student-Parents with the CT Early Childhood Alliance, Maternal Mortality with YWCA Hartford, Bilingual Education Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez ‘04, Cultural Variation in Parent Engagement and ESL Resources at Jubilee House,Firearm Recovery with CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities That Care, Sexual Health Education with NARAL Pro-Choice CT, Child Care Center Research with Trinity Community Child Center, and Coltsville Park Usage with the National Park Service. See more on our blog here. 

Theater & Dance’s Peter Kyle Hosts Community Learning Collaboration Honoring Hartford Native & World-Renowned Multi-Media Pioneer Alwin Nikolais

This semester Assistant Professor of Theater & Dance Peter Kyle established a Community Learning collaboration that brought together college students from Trinity College and Saint Joseph’s, high school students from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and ACES Educational Center for the Arts, and Nikolais Foundation for Dance’s Alberto del Saz to restage iconic pieces from Nikolais (1910-1993) at the Trinity Fall Dance Concert. In the lead up to the Fall concert, Kyle also hosted a panel discussion at the Connecticut Historical Society with Hartford area Historian Steve Thornton and two veteran Nikolais collaborators, Ruth Grauert and Phyllis Lamhut and an improvisation master class for 80+ HMTCA high school students. Kyle said, “It’s thrilling to be reminded how we can use the arts, in this case Nikolais’ creative genius, as a touchstone for inspiring Trinity students and so many others to expand on their own artistic aspirations within a larger educational context here in Hartford.” Photos courtesy of Peter Kyle, Alex Fishbein, Larkin De Laria ’21 and John Atashian. See more on our blog here.

Liberal Arts Action Lab Teams from Capital and Trinity Present Hartford Research Projects

Last week, four Liberal Arts Action Lab teams presented results of their projects at the Digital Poster Fair downtown. Teams of Capital Community College and Trinity College students and faculty collaborated to answer questions posed by Hartford partners. This semester, the teams conducted research on Absentee Landlords with Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA), Youth Sports participation with Active City, relocation of families displaced by Hurricane Maria, and Youth Homelessnessoutreach with CT Coalition to End Homelessness. If you missed it, take a look at our photo gallery, video recaps, and the websites each team created on our blog here.

Trinity Homelessness Project Helps Serve 600 People at Footwear With Care Annual Boot Party in Downtown Hartford

This semester, the Trinity Homelessness Project Community Service student group has been out volunteering in Hartford almost every weekend: moving furniture with Journey Home, serving breakfast and donating to the Backpack Nutrition Program at Hands on Hartford, and more. Over the past few weeks, they prepared hundreds of sandwiches and boot donations for Footwear With Care’s Annual Winter Boot Party in Downtown Hartford. Thank you Erin Evangelista ’20, Joe Barber and Beatrice Alicea, Chartwells Dining Associates, community partners and many more who made these partnerships possible. See more on our blog here.

“Writing for a Digital World” Community Learning Students Design Print and Digital Products for Hartford Partners

This semester in Leah Cassorla’s RHET 125: “Writing for a Digital World” Community Learning course, students learned about multimodal composition and digital rhetorics, and then put that knowledge to use when designing print and digital materials such as brochures, invitations, social media content, and websites for Hartford community partners. Read more about their class and view their products on our blog.


Welcome to the CHER October Newsletter! At the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research at Trinity College our mission is to strengthen educational partnerships with students, faculty, staff, and Hartford. Over the past few months we’ve knocked doors in the surrounding neighborhood, hosted student-led community events, engaged in community-based research with Hartford partners, and worked with faculty as they teach and develop community learning courses. If you are interested in getting involved or partnering with CHER programs, be sure to contact us.

Trinity’s Relationship with Hartford:
Results from a Community Resident Survey

In the summer of 2019, Trinity College undertook a door-to-door canvas survey of residents in the 15 square blocks around the campus. The purpose of this survey was to listen to and learn from the neighbors who live near the Trinity campus. Teams of student and community interviewers spoke with 114 neighborhood residents about their perceptions of their neighborhood, their knowledge and perception of Trinity College and its community-facing programming, and their direct experiences with the campus. See the full report on our blog and attend a presentation & feedback session: Friday October 25th at 12 noon at McCook Conference Room at Trinity College; Tuesday Nov 12th at 6pm at Southwest/Behind the Rocks NRZ meeting; and Thursday Nov 14th at 6pm at Maple Ave NRZ meeting.

Students and Faculty: Apply to Join a Liberal Arts Action Lab Research team by Thursday 10/31

In the Liberal Arts Action Lab, teams of students and faculty from Capital Community College and Trinity College work together on research projects proposed by Hartford community partners. Capital and Trinity students and faculty should apply for any of the 6 project options by October 31st at Contact with any questions.

Trinfo.Café Students Lead Community Events: TrinfoBringo, Yoga, LGBTQ+ Movie Night, Paint Night, Moonlit Movies

These days, there’s always something happening at Trinfo.Café! This semester, Trinfo.Café continued its student leadership initiative– Trinfo student workers are teaching computer literacy, offering drop-in tech help, and taking on the task of independently organizing free public events for the Trinity and Hartford community. Mary Meza Celis ’22 aid, I think Trinfo’s effort of having students organize events where students and people from the community can participate is a positive of the campus…Sometimes the campus can feel very exclusive, and for me the [events like this] are like a stress relief because you don’t feel like you’re always in a bubble. I like seeing other people and knowing there are more people I can talk to and more people I can connect with in Hartford. Click here for details about the upcoming Halloween Moonlit Movies, Community Paint Night, and more!

Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy and La Voz Latina Celebrate
Hispanic Heritage Month

Last week, Trinity College La Voz Latina students and Compass Youth Collaborative joined HMTCA students, families, and educators for a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. Major highlights of the celebration included a dance performance by HMTCA students (directed by Ms. Carmen Rivera) and La Voz Latina’s demonstration of “papel picado” which is a form of Mexican folk art that uses tissue paper and repetitive designs to create wall hangings. This small collaboration complements the focus on multiculturalism and multilingualism in the renewed partnership agreement between HMTCA and Trinity College. Read more on our blog here.

Trinity’s Project PACKS is Largest Contributor to Hands on Hartford
Backpack Nutrition Program

This week, we caught up with Project PACKS leaders Alison Cofranceso ‘20 and Hadley Santana Queiroz ‘20 to hear about their work organizing the campus to contribute to Project PACKS, a student group that donates food filled backpacks to the Hands on Hartford Backpack Nutrition Program every week. There’s something really tangible about packing 40 backpacks full of food that are going directly to kids in Hartford. We’re the largest outside contributor to the Backpack Nutrition Program, and I think it’s really important not only to be giving back to the community that we’re in, but giving back in a way where we’re relied upon. – Hadley Santana Queiroz ’20. Read more on our blog here.

Trinity Joins YWCA Hartford Panel for Week Without Violence: Know the Facts, Hear the Stories of Survivors, Take Action

“You are not alone, you’re not to blame, and there’s a way out.” – In case you missed it, Trinity College Women & Gender Resource Action Center’s Laura Lockwood and Samantha McCarthy ’21 joined YWCA Hartford Region and University of Saint Joseph’s Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Director Rayna Dyton-White for a “Week Without Violence” panel discussion on how to take action in your community. Take a look at our blog for the highlights. Thank you Melinda Johnson and Terry Fitzgerald at YWCA Hartford for the invitation to partner!

Community Learning Faculty Fellows Begin Building Relationships in Hartford

The 2019-20 Community Learning Faculty Fellows are delving into their work developing teaching connections with a diversity of Hartford community partners. Their courses range from writing & rhetoric to public policy, economics, and studio arts. Congratulations again to Leah Cassorla, Elise Castillo, Rachel Moskowitz, Ibrahim Shikaki, and Lynn Sullivan. Read more about their courses here.

Join us for Halloween on Vernon Street Sunday Oct. 27th 1-3:30pm

This event is free and open to the public from 1-3:30pm at 114 Vernon Street.

Additional upcoming dates:

CHER Director:
Jack Dougherty
CHER Communications & Data Assistant: Erica Crowley
Community Learning Director: Megan Faver Hartline
Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber
Community Service and Civic Engagement Assistant Director: Beatrice Alicea
Liberal Arts Action Lab Director: Megan Brown
   Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn
Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa
   Program Manager: Arianna Basche
Urban Educational Initiatives Director: Robert Cotto Jr.

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It has been a busy summer here at CHER! This summer, we’ve been busy working on projects that bring together Trinity students, staff, faculty, and Hartford-area community partners. Students have been deeply engaged in public humanities summer research, volunteering in Hartford, attending workshops and lectures, interviewing community members, and having fun. Take a look at what we’ve been up to below, and if you or your organization are interested in partnering with CHER programs in the upcoming academic year, be sure to contact us.

Public Humanities Collaborative Students Use Digital Tools for Hartford and Faculty Projects

This summer, Trinity students in the Public Humanities Collaborative (PHC) have been delving into archives at the Watkinson, Connecticut Historical Society, and the Jewish Historical Society; interviewing members of the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Hartford; transcribing, analyzing, and creating data visualizations on urban displacement in New York and the global wine trade; and so much more. Each week, teams have presented to fellow students, staff, faculty, and community partners on digital tools they are using in their projects. Take a look at their resources on our blog.

Moving from Oral History to Social Change: Groundswell Oral Historian Fanny Julissa García Presents Public Workshop

Over 40 Trinity students, faculty, staff, community partners, organizers, artists, and teachers came to CHER to learn about using oral history for social change with oral historian Fanny Julissa García. Participants described the ways they see oral history going beyond the archive: telling the stories of black elders and sharing those within a family, working with young people in a classroom setting and allowing freedom of expression, imagining and understanding Hartford and Willimantic neighborhoods before urban renewal and displacement, destigmatizing abortion, and more. Take a look at our blog post (with resources) here.

Building Community at Place of Grace Food Pantry

This week, we visited Peyton and Alicia at the Place of Grace Food Pantry at Grace Episcopal Church on New Park Avenue where they volunteer their time every Thursday. Place of Grace provides grocery items every week to parts of Parkville, the West End, and Frog Hollow and they’ve held a partnership with Trinity College’s Office of Community Service & Civic Engagement for about 8 years. Peyton and Alicia say for them, it’s deeper than volunteering: getting off campus in Hartford has taught them a lot. Take a look on our blog.

Trinity Community Resident Door-to-Door Survey Results Coming in September

This summer, Action Lab Director Megan Brown and student researchers Mabel Silva ‘20 and Karen Navarrete ‘20 teamed up with community interviewers to conduct a door-to-door survey, in Spanish or English, with over 100 residents of the 15-block area around Trinity College. Survey questions focused on residents’ perceptions of their neighborhood, their local information networks, and their familiarity with Trinity’s partnership programs. The goals of the study are for Trinity to regularly listen and assess how our neighbors perceive our institution, and to reflect on better ways to use our limited resources to strengthen mutually-beneficial partnerships. The study was funded by Trinity’s Office of the President, Office of Community Relations, and the Dean of Faculty. Stay tuned for a public report on our findings, and community events to share and discuss next steps, in late September.

Does Money Matter for America’s Students? School Finance and Educational Inequality Researcher Professor Bruce Baker Presents at Trinity

Last week, we were lucky to be joined by Rutgers University Professor Bruce Baker, a leading researcher on school finance and educational inequality. Trinity College students, faculty, staff, community partners, and community members came together for a special lecture on inequity in school finance and implications that has in Connecticut and Latinx communities. Take a look at Professor Baker’s slides, a video recording of the lecture, and a repost of the Connecticut Education Association’s blog post about the event. 

MakerspaceCT Welcomes Partnerships with Trinity Faculty, Staff, Students

Dave Tatem, a Trinity College Instructional Technologist and CHER Advisory Board member, recently toured MakerspaceCT, a 25,000 square-foot hands-on collaboration space located in the historic G. Fox Building in downtown Hartford. Read what he learnedabout how Trinity faculty, staff, and students can partner with their program.

Beatrice Alicea Promoted to Assistant Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement

The Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College congratulates Beatrice Alicea on her promotion to Assistant Director of Community Service and Civic Engagement! Director Joe Barber (pictured above) said, “Beatrice will play an important role in strengthening and growing a number of Trinity’s ongoing community engagement efforts.” Read more about Beatrice and her new position here.

Learn How to Design a Communications Plan for Community Engagement

Erica Crowley, the Communications and Data Assistant at CHER, recently presented a one-hour interactive workshop on “Designing a Communications Plan for Community Engagement” for a gathering of the Community Engagement Professional Network (CEPN), sponsored by Campus Compact for Southern New England, and hosted at Quinnipiac University. She walked us through the steps behind clarifying your mission, designing a content calendar, and matching various digital and print platforms with different types of audiences. Learn more here.

CHER Director: Jack Dougherty
CHER Communications & Data Assistant: Erica Crowley
Community Learning Director: Megan Faver Hartline
Community Service and Civic Engagement Director: Joe Barber
Community Service and Civic Engagement Assistant Director: Beatrice Alicea
Liberal Arts Action Lab Director: Megan Brown
   Communications and Program Assistant: Morgan Finn
Trinfo.Cafe and Office of Community Relations Director: Carlos Espinosa
   Program Manager: Arianna Basche
Urban Educational Initiatives Director: Robert Cotto Jr.


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Last week, Professor Serena Laws’ “Envisioning Social Change” students in the first semester of the Community Action Gateway shared their video projects with Hartford community partners. In the Community Action Gateway, students have the opportunity to work on community-based research or social change projects with Hartford-area community activists, neighborhood organizers, government leaders, non-profit leaders, journalists, and social entrepreneurs. This semester, students partnered with Billings Forge Community Works, Christian Activities Council, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Make the Road Connecticut, and ReSet Social Enterprise Trust.

At the Shareback dinner, held at the Liberal Arts Action Lab downtown,  students to debuted their 1-minute videos and Professors Serena Laws and Jack Dougherty facilitated the conversation between last year’s gateway students, current students, and community partners to discuss social change in Hartford. Check out the video below to see a recap of the discussion.

Students will soon be working on proposals for Spring 2019 social change projects. Thank you to Professor Serena Laws, Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline, and Faculty Director of Community Learning Jack Dougherty for making these opportunities available to first year students.

Click here learn more about the Community Action Gateway.


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Last week, Brett Davidson from the Connecticut Bail Fund came to speak at Common Hour with the Trinity Young Democratic Socialists and Human Rights Department. The Connecticut Bail Fund is a grassroots organization whose mission is to abolish mass criminalization, incarceration, and deportation. They pay bail for people who are incarcerated due to poverty, and then once they are free, work alongside them and their families to advocate for their human rights. Brett said since 2016, they have freed over 250 people.

Most states, including Connecticut, have a cash bail system. This means that after an arrest, a person’s ability to leave jail before their trial is dependent on their ability to pay. Brett said in legal theory, bail is supposed to be imposed on someone who is a flight risk— to ensure that they return to court to face their charges. In reality, however, bail has become wealth-based in incarceration. According to the ACLU, over 70% of people in jail at any given time in the U.S. have not been convicted of a crime.

When a judge sets that kind of bail for someone who, for example, doesn’t have a job, they know that person isn’t getting out.” 

One student asked about the role of public defenders and the ways that people are treated when they cannot afford representation. Brett said,

In the communities where we work the public defenders are known as public pretenders. They are so overloaded with cases. A lot of public defenders don’t want us to bail our their clients because it’s easier to process the cases with the clients incarcerated. There’s also this mistaken notion that people get services when they’re in jail, such as drug rehabilitation. However, in my experience it takes at least 5-6 months to access any services.”

Students asked, “What’s the relationship between bail and the larger criminal injustice system? What could bail reform look like in Connecticut?” Brett said, “Around the country there’s a growing movement to end money bail. Right now we decide who gets locked up vs who gets to fight their cases from the outside is based on who has money. The short answer is: it’s complicated. A lot of people around the country are now looking to Risk Assessment as a way to reform, however these assessments use really dangerous proxies for race, such as what magazines someone subscribes to, for example.

Instead, the bail fund focuses on a combination of meeting people’s immediate needs (bailing them out and using a harm reduction model in their work) as well as working on the abolition of incarceration altogether. To end the talk, Brett encouraged to group that instead of thinking about the notion of dangerousness or “violent criminals” the real questions they could be asking are, “When violence happens? What is the response? What are ways that we can look at restorative justice and transformative justice?”

To learn more about the Connecticut Bail Fund, visit Thank you to the Human Rights Department, Trinity Young Democratic Socialists of America, and the Connecticut Bail Fund.


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Call for Proposals 2018-19
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) – Trinity College
Academic Collaboration Grants

Academic collaboration between Trinity College and HMTCA has grown since the formal partnership agreement between the two organizations in 2011. The partnership includes two summer academies at Trinity for HMTCA 9th and 10th grade students, academic collaboration in specific academic departments, HMTCA students taking introductory Trinity classes, attendance at Trinity lectures and programs, and a number of other academic and service projects. As of summer 2018, the HMTCA-Trinity College partnership is supported by Urban Educational Initiatives in the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity. Learn more about this partnership here.

Over the years, there has been increased interest for supporting innovative projects to benefit students at both HMTCA and Trinity College. Some of these projects may be one-time projects (designed for a short period) and others may be pilot programs (to test an idea for a potentially longer period). As these efforts expand, it is important to support new projects and share the accomplishments of academic collaboration between the two institutions.
This call for proposals supports one-time or pilot projects that strengthen the HMTCA-Trinity College partnership. Resources from the Urban Educational Initiatives and Community Learning budgets may fund up to two projects at $1,000 each during the remainder of the 2018-19 academic year. 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.

Short proposals (<1000 words) to support expenses for academic collaborations between HMTCA and Trinity College should be submitted by December 14, 2018. Please refer questions and submit completed proposals to Robert Cotto, Director of Urban Education Initiatives, 860 297-4100. Submit proposals via e-mail to

Proposals should include the following information:

  • Names and contact information for Trinity and HMTCA faculty and/or staff collaborators
  • Specific time period of the academic collaboration (such as a date, month, or semester in 2018-19)
  • Course titles and student enrollments (or if the collaboration is not classroom-based, carefully describe the participants and setting)
  • Description of academic collaboration, including goals, methods, anticipated challenges, and strategies to overcome them
  • Description of documentation and/or sharing of accomplishments
  • Benefits: How does this project benefit both Trinity and HMTCA students? Also, does it include multicultural and/or multilingual benefits for students? How does this project enrich the curriculum?
  • Budget: We welcome proposals with specific budgets, using any of these categories:
    1) Planning (provide detail)
    2) Materials (art supplies, lab materials, books not otherwise covered by existing institutional budgets)
    3) Documentation (for example, costs to document the presentation of a collaborative project)
    4) Additional compensation (with approval by direct supervisor, up to $750 may be used for faculty or staff additional compensation)

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Nat Bush ’19 is the co-president of the Green Campus Club at Trinity College, part of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. We asked Nat to be a guest blogger and write about their experience attending the Students for Zero Waste Conference at the University of Pennsylvania. Check out Nat’s guest blog below.

Last weekend, myself and other student representatives from the Green Campus club attended the Students for Zero Waste conference at the University of Pennsylvania. This conference, provided by PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) is an annual two-day conference hosted at a different campus each year on the East Coast.

They provide students with dozens of workshops that teach them how to incorporate a zero waste lifestyle into their personal, school, and professional life. In addition, the conference itself is zero waste, meaning that no trash is produced for the duration of the weekend. Students are encouraged to bring their own silverware, Tupperware, dish cloth, and other products that normally would be tossed out.

This conference was absolutely transformative for me. I went to the conference 2 years ago as well, when it was at University of New Hampshire, but at the time I wasn’t aware enough of how I could implement zero waste efforts into the Trinity campus community. Now that I’ve had 3 years of experience with Green Campus, EROS, and my other involvements at Trinity, I’ve been able to take the lessons provided at the conference and compare them with how I’ve run things on campus. For example, one workshop taught me how to prevent burnout and inspire club members to maintain their involvement in the club. It is easy to get caught up in your own responsibilities as a president or other leading position in a club, and therefore get burnt out and lose interest in continuing your involvement. In order to fix this, the workshop taught us it’s necessary to include each and every club member, to tell them how they matter to you, why you appreciate having them in the club, and providing them with meaningful work that will reassure them that their membership matters.

Another workshop was run by three costume designers who make their clothing from discarded fabrics. In a capitalist society we are accustomed to throwing away things we no longer want, and we don’t see where our waste goes. We put it into a trash can and often don’t see the other side, where the waste gets incinerated or sent to a landfill. Clothes that just have a hole or two in them can still be worn for many years, and even if they’re ripped to the point of being unwearable, it’s possible to repurpose them. One woman leading the workshop gave an example of a beautiful dress she bought in the 1970s that she then turned into a skirt. The fashion industry is incredibly wasteful, so there are plenty of opportunities for repurposing the fabric they use into new and unique designs.

I highly encourage that students at Trinity continue to attend this conference. Even if it’s just a few representatives, they can document what they learned and bring it back to their clubs on campus to make Trinity a more sustainable and active community.

Green Campus is committed to fostering respect for the environment and implementing sustainable practices on Trinity’s campus and throughout the Hartford community. Be sure to follow Green Campus on their new Instagram account @tcgreencampus.

Special thanks to Nat Bush ’19 and other Green Campus student reps!


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With over 20 proposals submitted by Hartford community partners, the Liberal Arts Action Lab has formed 4 research teams for Spring 2019. These project teams will focus on a diverse set of issues facing Hartford from developing culinary job training to expanding park and trail access. All students will meet together in the Action Research Methods course on Monday afternoons and also will participate in one of the four Hartford research project teams below:

Culinary Careers Project

Food service is one of the few options open to people with barriers to employment, especially in Hartford. Many people of color and women, however, are mired in entry-level positions without advancing due to lack of training and often-unconscious racism and sexism in the culinary sector. In this project, students will conduct research to improve training programs for entry-level food service workers to move into middle-income managerial jobs. They will review other national training models, participate in phone interviews with programs, identify any best practice reports available, and review and rank conferences for relevance.

Day and time: Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-4:10 pm

Community Partner: Cary Wheaton, Billings Forge Community Works

Faculty Fellow: India Weaver, Capital Community College

Student Success Project

West Indians comprise the largest foreign-born population in Connecticut at precisely the same time that budgets for “new arrivals” programs aimed at easing their transition into the K-12 education systems have been slashed. In this project, students will gather data from parents, students, and teachers in Hartford area schools to answer the question: how do local area schools integrate West Indian children and their parents into the education system when English language learning and programs aimed at cultural competency often miss the nuances of the needs of English-speaking migrants, their children who emigrate with them, as well as their first-generation children?

Day and time: Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:10 pm

Community Partner: West Indian Foundation (Desmond Collins, President; Violette Haldane, VP of Programming; and Dr. Fiona Vernal, board member), West Indian Foundation (founded 1978)

Faculty Fellow: Cleo Rolle, Capital Community College

Latinx Theater Project

Upwards of 45 percent of the population in Hartford identifies as Hispanic or Latinx. After surveying their audience, Hartford Stage identified a need for both Spanish-language theater and Spanish-language published materials which accompany their shows. Students in this project will collect qualitative and quantitative data from Hartford’s Latinx arts community to improve and expand Hartford Stage’s partnerships and programming.

Day and time: Wednesday afternoons, 1:15-3:55 pm

Community Partner: Rachel Alderman and Theresa MacNaughton, Hartford Stage

Faculty Fellow: Diana Aldrete, Trinity College

Riverside Recapture Project

Riverfront Recapture is seeking to expand access to the Connecticut River to include neighborhoods in the North End of Hartford. This expansion will allow for an increase in environmentally-friendly transportation in the city and access to other green space in the region, and the organization is planning on adding amenities to existing trail systems that will remove barriers to access. In this project, students will engage residents in the planning processes, provide an opportunity for their voices to be heard, and identify barriers, needs, and interests, in order to create a park and trail system that will be fully utilized and valued as a community asset.

Day and time: Thursday afternoons, 1:30-4:10 pm

Community Partner: Martha Conneely, Riverfront Recapture

Faculty Fellow: Stefanie Chambers, Trinity College

Contact Action Lab Director Megan Brown for questions or to learn how to apply for the next round of Action Lab projects.

[Photo by Nick Caito, Trinity College]


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Professors Jack Dougherty (Educational Studies) and Kyle Evans (Mathematics) are teaming up to redesign Educ 350: Teaching and Learning, to be offered on Fridays 1:15-3:55pm in Spring 2019. The course will delve into topics such as curriculum standards, assessment, and equity, with a special focus on science and mathematics education. For the Community Learning  component, pairs of students will design and teach two inquiry-based lessons in Hartford public elementary or middle schools during our class time, and create web portfolios that combine writing and video of their teaching and student learning. See past examples of Trinity student teaching portfolios on the web by Elaina Rollins ’16, Christina Raiti ’16, and Emily Meehan ’16.

Prerequisite is Educ 200: Analyzing Schools, or permission of either instructor. To request permission, email a one-paragraph statement of interest to either Prof. Jack Dougherty or Kyle Evans, or speak with them during office hours.

Click here to see a listing of more Spring 2019 Community Learning Courses.


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Hartford community partners in a focus group with Megan Hartline and Karolina Kwiecinska at Trinity College in August 2018.

In late summer 2018, the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) invited Hartford-area community partners who engaged with Trinity students to share their feedback in focus group sessions. CHER is responsible for regularly evaluating community engagement between Trinity and Hartford, so that all parties better understand the scope and quality of our work together, so that we may continue to improve. Now that we have reviewed notes from these very insightful conversations, this report outlines six of our key findings about these partnerships, as told from the perspective of twenty community organizations.

This is the second year that Megan Faver Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning, has led these focus groups. (See her first report from summer 2017 [link].) We invited about 50 Hartford-area community partners, most of them affiliated with non-profit organizations and neighborhood groups that collaborated during the prior academic year with Trinity students through various CHER programs: Community Learning, Community Service & Civic Engagement, Liberal Arts Action Lab, and Trinfo.Cafe. We were pleased that 21 partners (who represented 20 different organizations) generously made time to participate in hour-long focus groups, which took place on six different dates in August and September 2018. Two participants attended because they read about the focus groups in a CHER public announcement. During these sessions, we asked participants to describe their interactions with Trinity students; to review the costs, benefits, and development of these relationships; and to evaluate their overall impact on Hartford. (See our focus group questions in the appendix.) While the vast majority of the 21 participants represented organizations located in Hartford, only about half of these people reside inside the city. As a result, the feedback described below is not necessarily representative of all of Trinity’s community partners, because it is a self-selected sample of people who agreed to attend a one-hour focus group. Furthermore, our study of community partners does not attempt to represent the views of Hartford neighborhood residents at large. But until Trinity conducts future assessments, these focus groups offer the richest data currently available on the quality of our engagements, as viewed from the perspective of Hartford community partners.

  1. Range of Partnerships: We began each session with a short writing exercise that asked participants to list the ways that their organizations interacted with Trinity students during the prior school year. After listening to participants share their lists, we sorted them into our three recommended categories. Of the 20 different organizations represented, they primarily interacted with Trinity students in these ways:
  • Service Hours: 3 described how students tutor youth or volunteer at programs or events
  • Information Products: 5 stated how students created products like videos, data visualizations, and curriculum units
  • Research Studies: 10 identified how students conducted oral histories, or collected and analyzed data for studies

Note that the numbers above should not be interpreted as percentages of overall student engagement, because a service project may include 25 students while a research study may involve only 2. Furthermore, the focus group participants were not a carefully-designed representative sample, and these categories are not mutually exclusive.

Participants also provided new examples that forced us to rethink and expand our categories above. One explained how they interacted with Trinity students primarily through Artistic Collaboration, and another suggested adding this category: Guest Speaker in Class. Most impressive was the wide range — and unexpected cases — of community partner engagements with students. These focus groups taught us that no single Trinity employee had knowledge of all of our partnerships and the various ways that students interact with Hartford organizations. This finding provided additional motivation for the CHER team to create a collaborative database of our community engagements, to help us identify and work more closely with all of our partners.

2. Benefits to Partners:

When community partners agree to have Trinity students work with their organizations, this so-called “free” labor may require a significant investment of their time, so we asked them to evaluate the costs and benefits. All partners stated that student projects were useful to their organizations. “It’s a luxury for us to have folks who focus in on one specific project,” was a common theme voiced by community partners at small organizations with limited resources. In addition, about 75 percent reported that students completed work that their organizations would not have been able to do on their own. “The work that Trinity students have done for us would not be obtainable” without them, one partner stated, while another emphasized that their work without Trinity students would “not be as high quality.” Some partners attributed the high quality of Trinity student work to the faculty or staff oversight in the process, or noted that they would be hesitant to work with students without oversight. “When expectations are laid out for them, students are much more engaged,” one observed. Furthermore, even when counting the other 25 percent of organizations that would have done the work on their own, Trinity student involvement delivered value by offering different perspectives. “I appreciated the fresh approach by a younger set of eyes,” stated a humanities partner who worked with historical materials that were already very familiar to her. Others welcomed Trinity students for building public awareness of their organization’s work by “feeding it out” to younger generations on social media.

3. Relationships Drive Partnerships: When we asked participants how they began their partnerships with Trinity, about two-thirds pointed to their existing relationships with Trinity staff and faculty, and often named specific individuals as connectors. The other third were motivated by their desire to build new relationships with Trinity College at large, or noted how Trinity programs fulfilled one of their organization’s needs. This finding reminds us of the importance of establishing, sustaining, and expanding individual relationships with Hartford partners, which is vital to the work of CHER and the continued health of campus-community partnerships.

4. The Power of Networking Partners: One advantage of focus groups, rather than individual surveys or interviews, is that Hartford community partners frequently met one another for the first time. This happened far more often than we expected, given that people often refer to Hartford as a small city where everyone supposedly knows one another. Instead, community partners often engaged in conversations before, during, or after our focus groups to learn more about each other’s work, discuss potential collaborations, and exchange business cards. Moreover, when one partners described a particularly enriching partnership with Trinity, other partners often wanted to know more. One newer partner remarked, “I’m extremely curious about all of these other partnerships” described by other groups at the table, and another partner wondered “how to do that” with their own organization. Overall, this finding reinforces why CHER needs to improve campus-community partnership storytelling in our blog, social media, and monthly newsletter, to help other Hartford organizations imagine possibilities of collaborating with Trinity. Furthermore, CHER can play a more dynamic role in the city by regularly hosting focus groups or other events that bring together community partners to meet and brainstorm with us and other Hartford organizations.

5. Improve our Two-Way Relationships: Although we did not directly ask participants about campus-community relationships, this theme emerged at several focus groups, and views were mixed. On one hand, many praised the numerous Trinity programs that are designed to connect outward to the city. On the other hand, some believed that Hartford residents do not feel “invited” to come onto Trinity’s campus, or attend events, or use campus space, particularly in comparison to publicly-funded colleges and universities in the city. “Are we welcome here?” asked one focus group participant, who also is a Hartford resident and person of color. Even partners who feel somewhat comfortable at Trinity expressed confusion over how to find information about public events or answers to questions about requesting to use campus space. One positive example that actively makes Hartford residents feel welcome at Trinity is the International Hip Hop Festival, which several participants raised. Overall, these focus groups highlighted concerns about unbalanced campus-community relationships. Although Trinity sponsors multiple programs to engage students with Hartford, some city residents — notably some of our valued community partners on educational projects — do not always feel welcome on Trinity’s campus.

6. Unclear Impact on Hartford: Near the end of each focus group, we asked community partners to answer the big question: given their organization’s partnership with Trinity, and other Trinity partnerships that they were aware of, have these relationships made any difference in Hartford? The breadth of this question prompted long pauses and mixed responses, with different types of reasoning.


On one hand, partners who leaned “no” tended to emphasize higher expectations for Trinity as an “anchor institution” in the city. “I would expect to have more partnerships, not just with students, but also faculty. Their reach into really shaping Hartford isn’t there yet,” observed one partner. Another pointed to publicly-funded higher education institutions in the city that “are integrated and invested in partnerships all over the place. . . [while] Trinity literally has a fence. . . I see it making a difference with individual students, who are already inclined to working with the city. [Our Trinity students] feel frustrated about isolation and lack of integration.”


On the other hand, some partners who leaned “yes” argued that Trinity’s long-term institutional investment in the Hartford, from former President Evan Dobelle’s era to the present, is making a difference. Some answered affirmatively by pointing to the many individual relationships that formed through campus-community partnerships, particularly for Hartford youth in mentoring programs. College students “have incredible potential to influence young people, high-school age people. With a little bit of help, there could be thousands of college mentors in Hartford,” one partner observed. Still others mentioned very specific projects (such as an information product that Trinity students created to help domestic abuse victims hide their location on smartphones) as evidence that our work has an impact “on a micro level.” One community partner summed up their response to the question about whether we are making a difference in Hartford this way: “On an individual level, yes. As a whole, do I think we are moving the needle together? Probably not. Do I think we could? Yes. This year? Probably not.”


In conclusion, the CHER mission statement is “to strengthen educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College, and evaluate campus-city relationships.” To achieve this goal, we need to regularly conduct assessments about the quality of our relationships — most notably with our Hartford community partners — and to publicly report our findings to help all of us improve our work together. This report is one step in a continuing effort to enhance assessment and communication. Another example of assessment work-in-progress is the online survey and follow-up focus groups with educators, students, and alumni involved in the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) and Trinity College partnership, conducted by Robert Cotto, Director of Urban Educational Initiatives. The Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) plans to continue gathering feedback from more Hartford community partners and neighborhood residents in the future, to shape our future efforts.


If you are a Hartford community partner or Hartford resident who interacts with Trinity College students, and wish to be invited to similar focus group sessions in the future, contact Erica Crowley, Communications and Data Assistant for the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research.


Thank you to Erica Crowley and Karolina Kwiecinska for their contributions to this report by taking notes at many of these meetings.


Appendix: Community Partner Focus Group Discussion Guide, Trinity College CHER

Thanks for participating. The purpose of this focus group is to better understand relationships between Trinity College and Hartford-area community partners. We will ask you some questions, which will require about a half-hour of your time. People in the room will hear your answers, and we will write notes about your responses. But our final report will NOT identify you or your organization by name. Your participation in this project is completely voluntary, and you are free to stop or withdraw at any time.

1) Create a List

Our goal is to make concrete examples more visible to everyone in the focus group. Feel free to add notes to this page during our discussion. We will collect your sheet at the end.

– Name of your organization:

– List ways that Trinity students interacted with your organization over the past school year.

2) Looking at what you wrote above, what type of work did students do for your organization?

– Did students provide hours of service?

– Did students provide information or research products?

3) In your own words, tell us more about how Trinity students interacted with your organization and the service/information/research they provided.

4) Tell us about the conversations with people at Trinity and your organization that led to this arrangement, and why you agreed to participate.

5) Did the Trinity students provide service/information/research that your organization would not have had otherwise?

6) Did the Trinity student service/information/research require additional supervision from your organization? If yes, was it worth the investment of your supervisory time?

7) Thinking about your organization’s partnership with Trinity, and other Trinity partnerships you’re aware of, have these relationships made any difference in Hartford?

8) What are your organization’s plans for the next year?

9) Would you like to continue partnering with Trinity in the future? Why or why not?


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Joe Barber is the Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement

Let’s start with: where are you from where did you grow up?

I grew up in Winsted, Connecticut (fun fact: that’s the hometown of Ralph Nader).  I received a B.A. in Sociology in 1992 (summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and an MPA in 1994—both from the University of Connecticut. I have lived in Hartford since 1996 and I’ve been a homeowner in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood since 1999. Currently, I’m on the boards of the Frog Hollow NRZ committee, Night Fall and the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence. I work on Asking for a Friend with Chion Wolf—a live advice show at Sea Tea Comedy Theater—and play alto saxophone in the Hartford Hot Several Brass Band.

Tell us about yourself and your work at Trinity College. What does a day in the life look like?

I’ve been with the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement for 22 years–since October of 1996—and been director for about 16 years. I usually start my day at Peter B’s for some coffee and check in on my first round of emails for the day.  Then I go to my office and do paperwork, pay bills, take and make calls, and attend to any of the other non-ending administrative details that go into keeping an office going.  Throughout the day students come and go, and a good portion of the time is spent meeting and working with students on the various projects and events of the Office.

You’ve been at Trinity for a long time. What are you proudest of in your work?

What has been most heartening is to look over the Office’s body of work and see a range of projects that are diverse in content as well as longevity. We have over 20 ongoing programs and partnerships as well as about the same number of annual projects. There are projects like Halloween on Vernon Street and our Thanksgiving Drive that have been around for over20 years, as well as new partnerships and programs like Jumpstart and Trinity Homelessness Project that started just last year.

In addition, we’ve made a concerted effort throughout my time here to broaden the idea of what is community service (hence the full name of the office being community service and civic engagement). Community service should be thought of as service to democracy that involves continually enlarging the circle of people involved and engaged in society. So, yes, it’s about tutoring and mentoring, food pantries, food drives and toy drives, cleaning parks, and building houses, but it’s also about human rights, the environment, art, social entrepreneurship, community building, and dialogue about social issues and community. This approach has allowed the Office to have great diversity in the work we are able to do in Hartford and how we promote Hartford as our home, as well as providing many opportunities that emphasize the importance of being an involved and active citizen in a democratic society.

What are some projects your office has done people should know about?

One of them is the Bantam Bus Pass (originally the U-Pass) which we started (in partnership with CT Transit) in the Fall of 1999. It provides all students free transportation all local CT Transit and the CT Fastrak buses. It’s important because it gets people out of their cars and out using public transportation. It’s good for the environment and it allows students to get to know Hartford in a more intimate way.

Some of the other projects that we are known for (or at least should be) are Do It Day, Halloween on Vernon Street, Trinity Film Festival, our Thanksgiving drive, Sponsor-a-Snowman holiday gift drive for Interval House, Backpack Nutrition Program, sustainability projects (recycling, composting, etc.), Place of Grace Food Pantry, the Coop thrift shop and the Jones-Zimmerman Academic Mentoring Program at HMTCA.. We also have long-standing officially recognized campus chapters of Amnesty International, Best Buddies, ConnPIRG, Habitat for Humanity, and Lions Club.

What are some of your favorite memories at Trinity?

That’s a tough one for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time and there really are so many.  But honestly some of my favorite memories are right here around this table in Mather basement when I’ve been working with students on different projects or just talking about life. It really is this space where the ideas come to be. It really is a co-working environment; I can’t work without them and they can’t work without me.  And when we see a project through to successful completion, those are the really nice moments.

What else should people know about you?

I usually run every day at lunchtime, and I am the team liaison/advisor for Trinity’s men’s and women’s cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams.


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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.” In the video below, Brooke Williams ’18 of Trinity Young Democratic Socialists and Kyle Fields ’20 of the Trinity Homelessness Project explain their plans for organizing the event.

The guest speaker for the program was Erin Boggs, the Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance, a Connecticut-based civil rights organization advocating for access to opportunity. Erin comes from a family of civil rights activists, including her father who became a civil rights lawyer, and attended public schools in D.C. with her three siblings which she says has a huge influence on her worldview and impacts the work she does today.

This common hour event was almost completely full, and rightfully so; Connecticut is one of the most segregated states in the country when it comes to housing. Erin said,

In terms of segregation, Connecticut is one of the most segregated state in the country. We are right on par with Chicago and Detroit. This comes out of a number of factors including what we’ve done with zoning laws, where we’re putting subsidized housing, where we’re allowing housing authorities to operate, disinvestment from communities that are disproportionately communities of color, and our entire history of explicitly racist housing policies.

Drawing on CHER director and Professor Jack Dougherty’s work in “On the Line” and Richard Rothstein’s “Color of Law” Erin explained how many of the issues we are seeing today, including the opportunity gap and affordable housing that OCA studies, are a result of a long history of state sponsored segregation.

To give some background from Richard Rothstein’s work, there were two main aspects that interacted: the first was the rise of public housing and the second was federally backed housing developments for white families. Public housing began during the New Deal under the Roosevelt Administration to provide housing primarily to low and middle income families who had lost their homes during the Great Depression, and the Administration included separate public housing for African American families. These patterns of segregated public housing went on through World War II, and in 1949 President Truman proposed a massive expansion of the public housing program, again primarily for white families, to accommodate the shortage of housing largely for veterans. After lengthy political back and forth between Republicans and liberals of the Democratic party regarding integration or segregation, the bill passed and hugely expanded public housing, still segregated.

However, after a few years, the public housing for white families was suddenly vacant and the public housing for African American families was still full and with a waiting list. Erin explained how Jack Dougherty’s work in “On the Line” wanted to understand these changes that had taken place in the Hartford area:

So Jack and others mapped the racial makeup change in the Hartford area from 1950 to 2010. With that shift he’s also done a map of home values over time, you can see the more expensive homes were originally in Hartford, and then with the wealth flight and White flight the high value homes were outside of Hartford.

In the video above, see Jack Dougherty’s mapping of the racial change in Hartford from 1950-2010. The reason for this change was another federal program run by the Federal Housing Administration which “subsidized the movement of white families out of central cities and into single-family homes in the suburbs into houses that were exclusively white. The federal government guaranteed loans to mass production builders to build tens of thousands of homes. The loans were guaranteed on explicit condition that no homes be sold to African Americans and that every home in the development had to have a clause in the deed prohibiting resale to African Americans” (Rothstein).

During the talk, Erin focused on how policies regarding affordable housing and homelessness play a role today in reinforcing this history of state sponsored segregation and the opportunity gap in our state. She explained that one of the ways that policymakers address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing is by defining what homelessness is in order to identify families that qualify for certain resources such as the Housing Choice Voucher. While defining homelessness is critical for impact evaluation, it also means that families who don’t meet the definition can fall through the cracks. Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline said:

We discussed how there’s a difference between HUD’s definition of “literal homelessness” and the realities of many families with kids who double up and couch surf but have no reliable, permanent place to sleep each night.” -Megan Faver Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning

This narrower definition means that resources such as the Housing Choice Voucher have been invested only in families that are considered “literally homeless” by HUD’s definition. Erin says to address homelessness in the long term, it’s important to ensure we deal with real family homelessness now, including supporting families that are doubled up or couch surfing. This would mean either 1) hard decisions about re-allocating current resources, or 2) a meaningful increase in housing investments.

To further explain housing investments by the state, Erin gave an overview of OCA’s “Out of Balance Report” which measures the opportunity gap in different geographic areas in Connecticut. OCA started by designating neighborhoods’ “opportunity score,” which is indicated by educational indicators such as test scores and educational attainment, economic indicators such as unemployment rate and job diversity, and neighborhood/housing quality indicators such as neighborhood vacancy and homeownership rate (shoutout to the Fall 2018 Liberal Arts Action Lab team looking at Homeownership in Hartford with Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner!). They found that low opportunity areas, shown in the maps below in lightly shaded areas, were highly concentrated in communities of color.

Next, OCA mapped where subsidized housing is located, and the map patterns followed. They found that almost 90% of the subsidized housing developments created by the State of Connecticut are outside of high opportunity areas. In OCA’s research they found that many families living in low opportunity areas do want the choice to move to higher opportunity areas, but the number one deterring factor is the lack of affordable units in those areas.  Erin gave an example in Clay Arsenal in Hartford where over 54% of the units in the neighborhood are subsidized:

It is very hard for a neighborhood to succeed when government policy creates that concentration. It impacts everything from neighborhood infrastructure, to the ability to pay taxes to support municipal services, to schools. The tentacles of that policy decision spread out into so many areas. When people talk about things like the educational achievement gap, I talk about the opportunity gap, because this is so clearly about resources available.” – Erin discusses the concentration of subsidized housing in Clay Arsenal

Looking at the work of Richard Rothstein, Jack Dougherty, and the incredibly relevant recent research by OCA, it is clear that the current policies on homelessness and the locations and concentrations of affordable housing units are reinforcing the history of segregation and disinvestment in communities of color. When Kyle Smith ‘20 of the Trinity Homelessness Project asked Erin, “What should we be doing to try and solve these huge problems?” Erin explained that we got to where we are because a series of overtly and covertly racist policy decisions, and OCA’s policy agenda is driven by the research they have done with families most impacted by these housing decisions and their work in coalition with other groups, such as our community partners at Christian Activities Council. 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.”

Special thank you to the Department of Public Policy and Law, Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, the Trinity Homelessness Project, and Trinity Young Democratic Socialists.

Open Communities Alliance “is a Connecticut-based civil rights non-profit working with an urban-suburban interracial coalition to advocate for access to opportunity, particularly through promoting balances affordable housing development, including in thriving communities.” To learn more about OCA’s work visit



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Photo by Nick Caito.

Last week, high school students from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) attended the Connecticut Supreme Court Justices “On Circuit” program here at Trinity College. On October 17th, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments in one criminal case and one civil case (details below). The program provided students and faculty the opportunity to see the appellate process first hand, and included a Q&A session with the litigators after each case. The Q&A sessions were facilitated by Professor of Public Policy & Law, Glenn Falk.

Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy students in Advanced Placement Government and Mock Trial were a perfect fit for the audience.

“We just started a unit on the Bill of Rights in my civics class, so this experience was really timely. The students enjoyed watching the appellate court proceedings and had a lot of questions about the first case, which we will discuss in class. Please continue to offer these educational opportunities because it not only supplements the learning, but extends the learning experience and helps our students make important connections to the real world.” – HMTCA Teacher

Professor Falks prepared the following descriptions of the cases:


The defendant Jean Jacques is appealing from his murder conviction.  Before his arrest, Mr. Jacques rented an apartment in Norwich, Connecticut on a month-to-month basis, paying rent to the landlord on June 10, 2015.   On July 15, 2015, while Mr. Jacques was incarcerated, the police entered the apartment with the landlord’s permission and found evidence which tied Mr. Jacques to the murder, including the victim’s cell phone and a plastic bag containing drugs with the victim’s DNA on it.


Austin Haughwout, a college student, sued various administrators at Central Connecticut State University 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 under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Mr. Haughwout is appealing from the trial court decision which upheld his expulsion.  He seeks reinstatement as a student and the expungement of his record.

Thank you to Urban Educational Initiatives Director, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Renny Fulco, Director, Public Policy and Law Program, for organizing the HMTCA classes to attend this event.


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For 29 years, Trinity College has hosted the annual “Halloween on Vernon Street.” This event, held on the Sunday before Halloween each year, provides a space for children in the Hartford area to come trick-or-treating, make crafts, and play games to celebrate Halloween.

Yesterday, Trinity Greek life organizations and cultural houses such as Umoja House and La Voz Latina opened their houses on Vernon Street where they provided candy, games, and music for families in the Hartford area. 

Children and parents in costume with trick-or-treating bags lined the sidewalk awaiting check in with the organizers from ACES (Annual Community Events Staff). Once at the front of the line, groups of families were linked with a student volunteer who showed them the circuit around Vernon Street where they collected candy, played games with Trinity students, and of course checked out everyone else’s costumes. Our personal favorite was the inflatable dinosaur.

At the end of Vernon Street, at Trinfo.Cafe, sat the goldmine of all Halloween celebrations: the Trinfo pumpkin patch. Parents and kids alike were sent into the garden to search for their perfect pumpkin, and then brought it over to volunteers to make sure all the dirt was cleaned off an it was ready for decoration. Inside Trinfo, there was a space for movies and crafts for kids who needed some quieter time.


It’s safe to say that the 29th Annual Halloween on Vernon Street was a success. This event would not be possible without the leadership of Alex Donald ‘19 and Lexie Axon ‘19, of ACES, all the student volunteers, Carlos Espinosa and Arianna Basche at Trinfo Cafe, and of course Joe Barber and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement.



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This essay was originally published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on September 7, 2018, and appears here with permission of the author.

Experiential education, an attempt to break down the barrier between classroom learning and everyday life, has long been a staple of professional disciplines. For the liberal arts, the partnership hasn’t come naturally. For many liberal-arts faculty members, an education should be for its own sake, not for job preparation.

Nonetheless, it is common now for liberal-arts colleges to advertise their embrace of experiential, “high impact” forms of education. These generally include place-based learning during study abroad, internships, civic engagement, and undergraduate research. Fully realized, the experiential liberal arts have the potential to transform higher education.

Large universities have taken the lead on this change. For example, my previous institution, Northeastern University, is fully connecting experiential education to the liberal arts. The university’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities has defined a model that links traditional liberal-­arts strengths (critical thinking, cross-cultural competency, etc.) with the long-established strengths in co-operative education that Northeastern is known for. In addition, it has embraced new competencies, particularly in areas such as data visualization, that clearly overlap with existing liberal-­arts disciplines.

Many traditional liberal-arts colleges, too, are embracing, if somewhat cautiously, forms of learning that would have been unthinkable in an earlier era. While business schools in those types of institutions are still rare, there has been a recent flowering of centers and programs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. Such programs exist at Middlebury, Lewis and Clark, Bates, and Swarthmore, among other colleges.

At other liberal-arts colleges, some programs have long recognized the value of practical forms of education. Here at Trinity College, we have a distinctive, longstanding engineering program in which the very practical discipline of engineering is mixed with traditional liberal-arts skills. The logic for such a program is not simply to provide a practical route to employment within a liberal-arts context but also to bring the benefits of a rounded liberal-arts education to future engineers.

In truth, none of this should feel foreign. The value of practice, of doing, has long been taught across disciplines in liberal-arts colleges. The value of labs in the sciences has never been in question. Education theorists argue that doing is one of the surest pathways to learning. My discipline, geography, has a longtime commitment to fieldwork as a practice that reinforces the value of classroom learning.

Similarly, the arts disciplines insist on the need to actually play music, perform theater, and create sculpture as part of the education. Even in the seemingly rarefied worlds of philosophy, literature, and critical theory, there has been a turn toward worlds of practice and habit, which have too often been subordinated to the heady life of the intellectual.

Fully integrating experiential learning into the liberal arts is a bigger step, although with clear benefits for the employability of liberal-arts graduates. Employers point out that the kinds of things they are looking for in prospective employees include meaningful internships, global experience, civic engagement, and collaboration in addressing real-world problems. These are all features of experiential education.

But the benefits of the experiential liberal arts go well beyond employment in specific jobs. When students are encouraged to reflect on, and learn from, an array of experiences, they gain the skills to navigate their way through life and multiple careers.

To be most effective, the experiential liberal arts need to follow the general lead of experiential education and go beyond the academic-affairs divisions of our colleges. A successful experiential liberal arts will connect to the admissions and recruitment processes before students arrive on campus and to the career-advising and student-success divisions once they arrive.

Centering an admissions process on a series of numerical indicators derived from SAT or ACT scores is clearly not consistent with the goal of John Dewey, father of experiential learning, to include places other than the classroom in the concept of learning. The admissions process needs to take a more rounded view of the skills, talents, and varied forms of knowledge that are likely to signal an aptitude for integrated learning across a continuity of experience — a principle that means, in Dewey’s words, “that every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after.”

Such a process must recognize that valuable precollege experiences are not simply those that can be bought by well-to-do families, but also life experiences over which students often have little power, such as helping to raise siblings or dealing with an ill parent. Career services and student-­success programs play a role, too. A career office generally fails if it becomes simply a place to visit when you are close to graduation. Offices of career development and student success must be fully integrated into the learning experience throughout the years of college.

Administrators and faculty and staff members across all divisions of a college need to go about the business of curating an educational experience that creates the habits of mind conducive to continuous reflection and lifelong learning — habits that promote exactly the kind of self-knowledge that advocates of the liberal arts have always promoted.

Tim Cresswell is dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Trinity College, in Connecticut.


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Megan Faver Hartline is the Associate Director of the Office of Community Learning

 Where are you from where did you grow up? What brought you to Trinity?

I’m from Texas, but I haven’t lived there in 7 years. I moved to Connecticut a year and a half ago to work at Trinity after I finished my PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville.

Tell us about your work at Trinity.

I’m the Associate Director of Community Learning. I work on course based opportunities for students and faculty to engage with Hartford community partners. There are three main areas to my job: one is faculty development which involves working with faculty on their courses to help them create strong community learning components and to create projects that are beneficial to students and also to the community partners. The second piece is about student program development—credit-bearing or paid work for academic community engagement work. This includes the Community Action Gateway (first year learning community for students interested in creating social change) and the Public Humanities Collaborative (a summer research program for students interested in humanities including research with a faculty member and Hartford community partners). The third piece of my work is developing and strengthening relationships with Hartford community partners. This means I am meeting regularly with folks in the city to learn about their goals within their organizations and in the city as a whole. Then I can think about ways that Trinity faculty and students can help them reach those goals.

I’ll also say that one of the reasons I was excited to take this job is the long history of Community Learning at Trinity (which started in 1995!). I was excited to step into a position where there are faculty who have been invested in community learning for decades and great interest from new faculty to see how they can connect their course goals with community needs. Whether I’m working with long-term classes like Stefanie Wong’s Analyzing Schools and Dina Anselmi’s Child Development or newer courses like Sheila Fisher’s Prison Literature and Serena Laws’ Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford, I love that I get to be a part of continuing the story of how Trinity is invested in the city of Hartford.

What are your interests and passions?

Generally speaking: community development, overthrowing the patriarchy, political engagement, and Mexican food. I also like ballet and musicals. For a long time my Instagram bio was “I’m probably thinking about feminism or tacos.”

What are some of your favorite memories?

I think my favorite part of my job is connecting with students who are really invested in community learning opportunities. Whether that’s working with Community Action Gateway students or learning about the Research Fellows projects, it’s always really great to see what students are interested in and how they’re connecting what they’re learning about on campus to what’s happening in the city. One of my favorite memories was exploring Hartford with Gateway students last year. It was their first year in Hartford as well as mine, and we learned a lot together as a class. We learned about local organizations here and got out and around the city. We went over to the Wadsworth Atheneum and also checked out local cuisine such as First & Last for breakfast and Black Eyed Sallys. This year, we’ve gone to El Sarape and Mozzicato’s.

What else should people know about you?

I’m really invested in every tv show Mike Schur has created (fun fact: he’s from West Hartford). Also, I’m still really emotionally invested in Parks and Rec and (more recently) the Great British Baking Show.


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Megan Brown is the Director of the Liberal Arts Action Lab, a partnership between Trinity College, Capital Community College, and Hartford community partners.

Tell us about your work at Trinity College. What does a day in the life look like?

As Director of the Action Lab, I split my time between the students and the community. Most of my time on any given day is spent teaching students how to design and carry out action research projects with Hartford community partners. I personally supervise all Action Lab project team meetings every week to help guide and manage the projects, teaching students how to do research and how to work in a team. I also spend a good deal of time meeting with Hartford community groups, listening to their problems, and helping them define a researchable question that could turn into an Action Lab project.

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up or where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA, but I’ve lived in California, Illinois, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina, and Connecticut. I live in Hartford now.

What are your interests?
I have my PhD in geography, and my research focuses on the shifting geographies of new labor movement campaigns, specifically the Fight for $15. I’ve always drawn inspiration for my research from the activist work that I’ve been a part of, and I became interested in how the labor movement is moving from traditional workplace organizing to city-based social movement-style organizing because of my time working in the labor movement in Seattle.

What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite moments are when students interact with the world outside of campus – whether its touring an old gold leaf factory that’s been slated for redevelopment, collecting surveys at a courthouse, or working through their research results with the people who proposed the project. What goes on in the classroom is always that much more meaningful when it travels beyond the walls.

What else should people know about you?
I’m a big women’s soccer fan, and am saving up for a trip to watch the World Cup in France next summer.

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In Community Learning courses, you can connect your liberal arts courses with on-the-ground projects in partnership with Hartford organizations. At Trinity, we define Community Learning as an experiential learning process that involves 1) collaborative partnerships and 2) perspective building relationships. Take a look at the Spring 2019 opportunities…

CLIC 299: Art and Community with Professor Clare Rossini

The course has two primary focuses: the role of the arts in individual and community identity formation and empowerment and the particular challenges of mentoring elementary-age students as they create art. Students in the course are scheduled for a minimum of 35 hours per semester in the arts classroom at the Hartford Montessori Magnet School. Trinity students are assigned a group at the school with whom they work throughout their time at the school, assisting the children as they make their art and, at times, collaborating with them on special projects.

CLIC 290: Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford with Professor Serena Laws

One way that the federal government attempts to address poverty is through income tax policy. This seminar will read and discuss broader debates over economic inequality, tax expenditures, wealth redistribution, and related social policies. In addition, for the community learning component, students will be trained to do income tax preparation, and volunteer for six hours per week to assist Hartford residents at the Trinity VITA Tax Clinic, located near campus at Trinfo Café.

HISP 280: Hispanic Hartford with Professor Aidali Aponte-Aviles

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.)

Fulfills GLB2, Requires HISP 221 or 224

RHET 320: Queer Rhetorics with Professor Nick Marino

This class is open to anyone interested in learning how rhetoric can create new knowledges and perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Specifically, we will apply rhetorical methodologies to US history, popular culture, politics, and law to research the formation of LGBTQ identities alongside mainstream identities in America. Our course moves from the rhetoric surrounding the 1960s Stonewall Riots through current debates about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and gay marriage. We also investigate the influence of alternative rhetorics, such as the subversive use of social media activism and the spatial arguments of gender neutral bathrooms. Students will take away the ability to rhetorically navigate key dialogues about gender and sexuality, as well as articulate how these debates influence research and knowledge creation in their majors.

Fulfills HUM

URST 321: Geographies of Transport with Professor Julie Gamble

Mobility is a permanent aspect of life. Transport infrastructures are a determinant of the spatial, economic, and social structures of cities. This course will introduce students to the spatial and social aspects of transportation and mobility across the globe. This course will act as a forum for research into transport and mobility, including debates on the planning and formation of transport policymaking.

Fulfills SOC, Requires URST 101

ENVS 310: Environmental Geophysics with Professor El Hachemi Bouali

This course will introduce students to near-surface geophysical techniques and their environmental applications. Lectures will provide the theory and background knowledge required to collect and interpret geophysical data. Hands-on exercises will allow students to gain experience in conducting geophysical surveys, operating equipment, and data analysis.

Fulfills NAT, Requires ENVS 112L and MATH 127 or higher

EDUC 200: Analyzing Schools with Professor Stefanie Wong

This course introduces the study of schooling within an interdisciplinary framework. Drawing upon sociology, we investigate the resources, structures, and social contexts which influence student opportunities and outcomes in the United States and other countries. Drawing upon psychology, we contrast theories of learning, both in the abstract and in practice. Drawing upon philosophy, we examine competing educational goals and their underlying assumptions regarding human nature, justice, and democracy. In addition, a community learning component, where students observe and participate in nearby K-12 classrooms for three hours per week, will be integrated with course readings and written assignments.

Fulfills SOC

ENVS 230: Environmental Chemistry with Professor Arianne Bazilio

This course will cover basic chemical concepts, such as polarity, volatility, and solubility, as they relate to chemical behavior in the environment. The ability to predict environmental behavior from chemical structure will be emphasized. Human and environmental toxicology will be discussed, and specific pollutants will be examined. Case studies will be used to illustrate concepts. The laboratory will emphasize techniques used for environmental analysis.

Fulfills NAT, Requires Chemistry 111L and 112L

LATN 105: Latin in the Community, with Professor Lauren Caldwell, F 1:15-3:55PM

Students will learn a curriculum designed for middle-schoolers (e.g. Aequora: Teaching Literacy with Latin) and read articles on Classics and community outreach to work with local schools (e.g. HMTCA) to support their Latin Club. This “lab” culminates in a final project (e.g. research poster or paper). Students who have taken at least one semester at Trinity are automatically eligible; students with at least one year of Latin elsewhere are eligible, with instructor’s approval. Requires 1 semester of Latin at Trinity or 1 year of Latin elsewhere (e.g. in high school).

Special thank you to Faculty Director of Community Learning, Jack Dougherty, and Associate Director of Community Learning, Megan Faver Hartline.


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Carlos Espinosa has been Director of Trinfo Cafe for 18 years and now also serves as Director of the Office of Community Relations.

Tell us about your work at Trinity and in the community. What does a day in the life look like for you?

A typical day is very high paced. Trinfo has merged with the Office of Community Relations which requires me to think more deliberately about where opportunities arise for collaboration across programmatic pieces. Some opportunities I’ve been thinking about include how to offer Trinfo’s technical skills in building WordPress websites for community organizations in Hartford, and how to strengthen the core community relationships we have within the Neighborhood Revitalization Zone groups in the neighborhoods that surround the College. The merger’s timing collided with a staff departure which offered another opportunity to strategically restructure staffing support for Trinfo and OCR. I’ve been the principle trainer of Trinfo’s new Program Manager and I have been learning the inner workings of OCR’s duties as director. Overall, there has been quite a bit of relearning old duties while learning new skills at the same time. I am able to see new opportunities that not only  deepen the connections between Trinfo.Cafe and OCR, but also look for ways to create new connections between CHER’s programs and its broader academic mission to create learning opportunities for Trinity’s students through deliberate engagements with Hartford’s residents and organizations.

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Hartford, not too far from campus in the Behind the Rocks neighborhood.

What are your interests and passions?

My interests range broadly between geeking out on old muscle cars and classic video games to civic engagement around politics and life in Hartford.

What is your favorite part about your job and/or one of your favorite memories?

My favorite part about my job is that no two days are seemingly the same. That constant along with the enthusiasm of college students keeps me energized.


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Arianna Basche is the Program Manager at Trinfo.Café & the Office of Community Relations

Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut and attended Glastonbury High School. I graduated from Williams College in 2016, where I majored in English and got a certificate in Spanish– that’s like a minor. I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina when I was a junior in college. I currently live in Hartford.

What are your interests and passions?

I’m passionate about creative writing. In 2017, I published a reported piece in Hartford Magazine about local events that bring people together and foster community. I also wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant about overcoming the stigma of moving in with your parents, and another op-ed about free outdoor recreation offered by the CT Air Line Trail. I’m open to exploring any topic that interests me. I also play guitar and sing. I love yoga, and I’ve learned recently that I really like spinning, so that’s been an unexpectedly satisfying activity. Working at Trinity has already inspired me and opened me up to new perspectives, so I can’t wait to see how this influences my everyday creativity.

Tell us about your work at Trinity and in Hartford. What does a day in the life look like for you?

I am the Program Manager for both Trinfo.Café and the Office of Community Relations.  On the Trinfo side, I supervise a staff of Trinity student workers. Trinfo student workers provide cost-free computer literacy classes for adults, after-school programming for youth, and fun events for the community. I also work with the Trinity faculty who maintain Trinfo’s community garden.  

On the Office of Community Relations side of things, I represent the College at meetings for the Frog Hollow, MARG, and SWBTR Neighborhood Revitalization Zones. I’m there to help Trinity stay in the loop on what’s happening in the community, and vice versa. For example, at the last MARG meeting, I shared an announcement about the kickoff of Trinity College’s Chapel Music Series because it’s an event series that might interest our neighbors. I’m also on SINA’s REACH committee. And, if a community group wants to host an event on campus, I help to make that happen. 

I started working at Trinity in September. This is a new position, so I’m excited to see how my role evolves.



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Photo: Standing outside Environmental Sciences Magnet School at Mary Hooker, from L – R, Professor Stefanie Wong, Rob Johnson (8th grade teacher), Annie Moore ’22, Jonah Capriotti ’22, Ashley O’Connor (7th grade teacher), Rafael Villa ’21, Lexi Zanger ’19. 

EDUC 200: Analyzing Schools
Professor Stefanie Wong, Educational Studies
Trinity College, Hartford, CT

In “Analyzing Schools,” Professor Stefanie Wong students introduces students to the study of schooling within an interdisciplinary framework, drawing on sociology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. Students combine their classroom learning about educational theories and settings with observing and participating in nearby K-12 classrooms for three hours per week. Through their classroom placements, students integrate theoretical readings with first-hand experiences in K-12 schools, deepen understandings and reflections on the contexts and inequities of urban schools and the purposes of education, develop meaningful relationships with students and teachers, and gain practical experience about teaching and curricula. Overall, the key goal of this course is to explore the central question: How can we best understand the practices, policies, and patterns in classrooms and schools in ways that enable us to create and sustain just, inclusive, effective, engaging, and pedagogically strong educational spaces?

Professor Wong explains the importance of community learning for Analyzing Schools, “The experiential component of the course allows students to connect course readings and themes to real life classroom experiences. As a result, they develop deeper understandings of how teaching and learning happens both in individual classrooms and within social contexts. Teachers also appreciate having Trinity students in their classrooms. They tell me about how helpful Trinity students are in supporting learning activities, and how much their students enjoy working with college students. Sometimes, Trinity students build lasting relationships with their teachers and schools, continuing to volunteer at the school beyond their course commitment.”

To successfully integrate classroom and community learning for her 26 students, Professor Wong constructs a detailed framework of logistical documents, writing assignments, and assessment opportunities for community partners. Together, these help her create mutually beneficial partnerships with local K-12 teachers and rewarding learning environments for students because she has crafted ways to stay organized in her approach to her community learning component and evaluate student work across multiple dimensions.

Logistical Documents

Professor Wong’s Scheduling Form and Participant Observation Contract allow her to set up school placements and set expectations with her students for when and how often they will be with their K-12 teachers.

Download (PDF, 286KB)

Download (PDF, 27KB)

Writing Assignments

Professor Wong asks her students to discuss their growing understanding of schooling by integrating what they have learned in her classroom and in their K-12 placement across multiple writing assignments. Here you can see several types of writing assignments: a reflection journal, a writing exercise, and two analysis papers.

Download (PDF, 72KB)

Download (PDF, 61KB)

Download (PDF, 79KB)

Download (PDF, 56KB)

Assessment Opportunities for Community Partners

To ensure that students are fulfilling their contracts and partners are benefitting from the students working in their classrooms, Professor Wong has included multiple opportunities throughout the semester for community partners to offer feedback on student work.

Mid-semester, Professor Wong sends teachers their first evaluation, which is ungraded but shared with students so they can see how they might grow. The assessment consists of a google form with the following questions:

1) Has your Trinity student been coming to your classroom as scheduled?
2) As a participant-observer, has your Trinity student been actively and meaningfully engaged in the life of your classroom?
3) Any additional comments or advice that you would like us to share with your Trinity student?

At the end of the semester, she sends another Google form, and the ratings provided comprise students’ grade for participant observation. Questions include:

1) Did the Trinity student responsibly schedule their time in your classroom, completing approximately 8 three-hour sessions (or the equivalent of 24 total hours) by the end of this semester?
2) As a participant-observer, was the Trinity student actively and meaningfully engaged in the life of your classroom?
3) Rate the Trinity student’s overall effort on the two items above. (1-10 scale)

Lastly, she asks some teachers who have coordinated student placements to attend and evaluate final project presentations by students, where they present a week-long curriculum for the grade and topic of their choice. Below is the form that students use in this process.

Download (PDF, 32KB)

Coordinating, integrating, and assessing community learning can be a complex, onerous task, but Professor Wong’s documents offer a map for how an instructor can successfully manage a community partnership project that is beneficial for her students’ learning and for helping partners meet their goals.

Interested in developing a Community Learning component for your course like Wong’s “Analyzing Schools”? Contact Megan Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning, for opportunities, resources, and feedback about this process. 


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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.

Kayla has experience assisting with the program in the past. This year, she took on the role as lead teacher.

“I love seeing the excited faces when explaining what the agenda will be for the class. The elementary school students enjoy the experience, and so does their teacher. “It’s rewarding to be able to work with bright students that have so many questions. It is honestly the favorite part of my day!” – Kayla Betts, ’21, Trinfo.Cafe Student Worker

In the photo above, Trinfo Cafe’s Program Manager Arianna Basche assists Kayla in teaching. The entire curriculum was developed by Trinity students.

To learn more, visit


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In the video above, Stefanie Chambers (Professor of Political Science at Trinity) and Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens ’13 (Community Outreach and Education Coordinator at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center) discuss their Community Learning partnership. Darby-Hudgens invited students in Chambers’s Pols 355: 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. Ordinarily, a field trip in Hartford does not fulfill our definition of Community Learning, because these trips are typically one-way educational experiences. But in this case, Chambers and Darby-Hudgens created a two-way collaborative learning activity. Trinity students ride the bus to experience the tour and help the partner to create better materials for the digital version. As a result, everyone gains deeper and richer knowledge about ways of telling the history of fair housing in Hartford.


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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. The organizers of Trin Talks say the goal is to get Trinity students engaged in meaningful conversation. They know students are having these conversations in their dorms, with friends, and on social media platforms. Trin Talks gives them an opportunity to have those conversations with people who think differently than they do.

In the video below, student panelists of different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions share their thoughts on the use of social media, racist posts that went viral over the summer, and responses they would like to see in the Trinity College community.

We extend a special thank you to Joe Barber, Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and organizer Trinna Larsen ’20 for coordinating coverage of the event.

We extend a special thank you to Joe Barber, Director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, and organizer Trinna Larsen ’20 for coordinating coverage of the event.

The topic of free speech on campus could not be more timely as we welcome the Connecticut Supreme Court to Trinity’s campus on Wednesday October 17th. Two oral arguments will take place in the Washington Room beginning at 10:00 a.m. 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. 

We hope to see you on Wednesday for the oral arguments, and stay tuned for the next Trin Talk event by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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Photo above: Members of the Hartford Resident Advisory Board reviewing Action Lab proposals with Director Megan Brown.

The Liberal Arts Action Lab received 20 proposals in September 2018 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.

Students and faculty fellows are welcome to apply by Wednesday October 24, 2018 to join any of the Action Lab projects above. Depending upon scheduling and interest, we expect to support 4 teams during the Spring 2019 semester. Apply online, and read more details about each project below the form, at

  • 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 in guide their two-mile expansion of the Riverwalk trail system.

Video: Listen to Action Lab students and faculty describe how they learn with Hartford community partners.

Prospective students from Capital Community College and Trinity College are welcome to list up to 5 preferences. Students must be available to enroll in two Action Lab courses: LAAL 200 Action Research Methods in Hartford (for all students on Monday afternoons, around 1-4pm) and an LAAL 201 Hartford Research Project team (6 students, meets either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons, around 1-4pm, or Wednesday evenings, around 6:30-9:10pm). Both will be taught by the Action Lab Director at our downtown campus, and successful students will earn 2 Trinity credits, which is the equivalent of 6 CCC credits. The Action Lab will inform students if they have been matched to a project team by early November, before pre-registration for the Spring 2019 semester.

Prospective faculty fellows are welcome to list up to 3 preferences. Your name will publicly appear online, to help us match you with prospective students. Full-time or part-time faculty, advanced graduate students, or staff with subject or method expertise, from Capital Community College, Trinity College, or other institutions in the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, are welcome to apply. Fellows will provide academic guidance and evaluate student work for at least one semester, and must be available to meet with project team at least once a month (either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons, or Wednesday evenings) at our downtown campus, plus one additional pre-semester meeting of all faculty fellows. (The Action Lab Director will supervise teams of students on a weekly basis.) The Action Lab will inform prospective fellows if they have been matched to a project team by early November, before students pre-register for the Spring 2019 semester. If selected, faculty fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend.

Contact the Action Lab if you have questions about the application process.


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Photo: ConnectiKids at their annual celebration in 2017. Photo credit to ConnectiKids, Inc.

Tomorrow marks the 40th birthday of our community partners at ConnectiKids, which we think deserves a huge shoutout and celebration. ConnectiKids Inc. is a nonprofit positive youth development agency that grew out of a dedicated group of people within the Asylum Hill Congregation who noticed students needed help in the community and began providing after school homework help. Today, ConnectiKids, Inc. is an all around powerhouse nonprofit organization focused on positive youth development and educating, enriching, and empowering Hartford’s youth.

Trinity has a long-standing partnership with ConnectiKids where over 50 Trinity students participate in the tutoring and mentoring program for K-8 students at West Middle Community School and Michael D. Fox Elementary School each year. Trinity students provide homework help and talk through any challenges or life goals the younger students are facing.

“We have always depended on Trinity students in our programs and they always deliver beyond what we ask. If I ask for volunteers, they’ll show up with 10 friends when I asked for 3. If I want to show our elementary and middle school students a tour of Trinity, they’ll say “I’ll show you! You can see my dorm!” And one of the best parts is that the Trinity tutors and mentors come back every year. So, some get started their Freshman year and we are seeing them show up  all the way through their four years. That’s important to the kids in our programs.” -Kiera Steele, ConnectiKids Program Director 

During the school year, ConnectiKids provides arts and enrichment programs such as cooking classes, martial arts, hip-hop and drumming. All in all, ConnectiKids, a organization made up of 2 full-time staff, some part-time program staff, and volunteers serves over 300 students per year. In the future, Kiera hopes to connect the elementary and middle school students with robotics and science clubs at Trinity.

ConnectiKids is celebrating their 40th Birthday Bash Friday October 12th from 5:30-10PM at The Marquee, 960 Main Street in Hartford. To learn more about this event and ConnectiKids, you can visit their website at



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Photo: HMTCA graduate Bea Dresser and Urban Educational Initiatives Director, Robert Cotto, Jr. at HMTCA graduation.

Bea Dresser ’22 is a current Trinity College student who attended high school at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Urban Educational Initiatives, a CHER program directed by Robert Cotto, Jr., includes a long-standing partnership between Trinity and HMTCA. This initiative is an early college experience where HMTCA high school students all participate in summer writing and science programs, can apply to take a highly selective introductory college course, and participate in community learning projects and on-campus events and activities with Trinity faculty and staff. We asked Bea to tell us about her experience.

How was your transition from HMTCA to Trinity?
I believe my transition from HMTCA to Trinity was a different experience compared to my peers. For starters, I am very familiar with the campus and area. I found myself moving confidently into and out of the campus because HMTCA gave us several opportunities to walk around the neighborhood and explore niches of the South End independently.

What do you like most about Trinity so far?
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.” I am able to tailor my experience to fit my career goals with ease because of the opportunities available at Trinity.

What advice would you give to current HMTCA students?
I would advise students at HMTCA to make the most out of their high school experience. For me, that meant going out of my comfort zone and becoming a leader in various groups across campus. 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.

Urban Educational Initiatives connects the college community with nearby public schools, such as the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA), a grade 6-12 interdistrict magnet school with city and suburban students in an early college program. Contact Director Robert Cotto Jr.


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We proudly announce the launch of the new Center for Hartford Engagement and Research at Trinity College! CHER coordinates five core programs that connect us with the city: Community Learning, Community Service & Civic Engagement, the Liberal Arts Action Lab, Trinfo.Cafe, and Urban Educational Initiatives. Our mission is to strengthen educational partnerships between Hartford’s diverse communities and students, staff, and faculty at Trinity College.

Community Partners:
Submit your Action Lab Proposal by Sept. 28th

Do you have a research question that would help your Hartford neighborhood group, non-profit organization, government agency, or small business? Submit your one-page proposal by Friday September 28th at If our Hartford-resident advisory board prioritizes your proposal, we will work to recruit a team of Capital Community College and Trinity College faculty and student researchers to answer your question in Spring 2019. Recent Action Lab partners and projects:

  • Connecticut Fair Housing Center asked: How do Hartford residents and their families experience the eviction process?
  • HartBeat Ensemble asked: How can we promote “creative placemaking” in the Asylum Hill neighborhood without gentrification?

  • Hartford City Councilmember Wildaliz Bermudez and CT Open Communities Alliance asked: What are the best ways for Hartford to communicate with suburban residents about the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT)?

  • Community Solutions International asked: How can we map relationships between neighborhood housing and health disparities in Northeast Hartford?

For questions or help with preparing your proposal, visit or contact Action Lab Director Megan Brown.

20th Annual Do-It Day Matches Over 350 Trinity Volunteers and Community Partners

On the 20th anniversary of Do-It Day, hundreds of Trinity students volunteered with community partners across Hartford — including cleanup with Friends of Pope Park, gardening with KNOX, Inc., creating props for Night Fall, and home demolition with Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance. Read more.

Welcoming HMTCA students to the Trinity Campus

Help us welcome the Fall 2018 Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy students! The Trinity-HMTCA initiative is an early college experience where high school students have the opportunity to enroll in summer writing and science programs, a highly selective introductory college course, and collaborate with Trinity faculty and staff in community learning projects and on-campus events and activities. Read more.

Community Learning:
Professor Seth Markle and Hartford Hip Hop Pioneers

Professor Seth Markle describes community learning in his “Global Hip Hop Cultures” course, where students conducted oral histories and created videos with Hartford’s artistic pioneers from the 1980s and ‘90s in collaboration with the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library. Read more and watch the video, edited by Giovanni Jones ‘21.

We Value Community: Send Nominations for CHER Hartford Resident Advisory Board by Friday September 21st.

The CHER Advisory Board seeks nominations (including self-nominations) for Hartford resident members. Read more at and contact us by Friday September 21st.

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