Other grant recipients include: the University of Connecticut Foundation’s entrepreneurial boot camp program for veterans with disabilities, and the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program’s cyber-gaming math challenge to close the achievement gap among urban students.
“The winning programs showcase innovative and creative ways to impact our state. NBC Connecticut is proud to recognize the organizations and provide resources to move their projects forward to benefit our community,” said David Doebler, NBC Connecticut President and General Manager.
*As part of our social justice programming, Charter Oak Cultural Center developed and launched Connecticut’s first “street paper,” entitled Beat of the Street (BOTS). Beat of the Street is a newspaper created, designed and sold by individuals experiencing homelessness. The paper is executed, from start to finish, by volunteer staff members, all of whom have or are currently experiencing homelessness, as well as their allies. Staff members create newspaper content, handle the distribution, and guide the overall direction of the paper. Over 4000 people experienced homelessness over the course of 2011 in Hartford, which accounts for close to 25% of the homeless population in all of Connecticut. Despite this, many people are not aware of the extensiveness of the issue. Beat of the Street puts a face on the issue of homelessness and gives voice to this often forgotten population. Over the past two years, Beat of the Street has grown immensely and we have launched other offshoot programs that also work to address the root causes of homelessness. Two of these programs include:
This past summer, Charter Oak created BOTS Pots, a program designed to meet three goals: 1) To provide employment for the homeless community, providing these individuals with all important job experience and a résumé line item 2) To provide low-income Hartford residents with free, fresh vegetables 3) To create art for the public to enjoy. We placed 14 potted vegetable plants throughout downtown Hartford, offering a stipend to members of the homeless community who tended the pots. We then commissioned local artists who transformed the pots into public art pieces, providing art and beauty in this urban environment.
The BOTS Center for Creative Learning
The BOTS Center for Creative Learning provides free classes for the Hartford homeless community. Classes include graphic design, journalism, computer literacy, photography and business, marketing, etc. and will be taught by local leaders in these subject areas.
The BOTS Center for Creative Learning is a bit different from other job training programs in Hartford. BOTS staff and other community members have developed a curriculum that accomplishes three things: 1) Provides people with skills that will help them in their work with BOTS 2) Provides people with skills that will help them advocate for issues having to do with homelessness 3) Provides people with skills that will help them find employment and enrich their lives. Classes take place twice a week and also offers participants a full breakfast as well as a safe, warm place to go when homeless shelters close during the day.