We bring together suburban and urban neighbors in partnership to improve the quality of outcomes for young people living in communities of concentrated poverty. Connect-Us youth programs are designed to complement formal education with afterschool growth opportunities that expand the vistas of youth living in Bridgeport, CT.
“... Suburban children have more enrichment activities before they even start public school than the typical urban child, and that makes a difference.”
— PHILIP DWYER, FAIRFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION CHAIRMAN
This program is designed as a place for young people ages 5 to 25 to network with each other, create new performances together, and learn how to be punctual, dependable and part of an ensemble. They take total responsibility for producing the show, from inviting their friends and family, to leading the audience in appreciating and supporting every young person who gets on stage. This activity builds community and the young people experience success – often for the first time in their lives.
Youth Leadership Team
The Connect-Us Youth Leadership Team is designed for young people ages 15 to 25 who are interested in becoming civic leaders in their community. Young people who participate in this program learn public speaking, community organizing, how to lead a meeting, how to express themselves, and how to have a productive discussion when not everyone agrees with their opinion. Additionally, they learn what it means to be a volunteer and take responsibility for producing successful community-based events.
Connect-Us Academy is for young people ages 16 to 21 who want to cultivate skills and learn to work in a professional business setting. For 14 weeks, students attend weekly workshops after school at companies throughout Fairfield County. The program prepares youth to enter the workforce, pursue educational opportunities, and face challenges in new ways. Corporate partners include those in the fields of finance, law, advertising, retail, health, and education administration. Graduates of the program are placed in paid summer internships by our business partners.
“There are a number of outstanding charities and social service organizations that seek to identify the best, brightest, most capable and most motivated young people among the economically disadvantaged – known as the top 10%... However, there is a limit to the impact on society when the focus is on making the top 10% more successful.”
— C. EDWARD CHAPLIN, DIRECTOR OF THE MGIC INVESTMENT CORP., AND FORMER PRESIDENT AND CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER OF MBIA
There is a significant opportunity gap in Fairfield County; the majority of public school students in Bridgeport will fall behind and will be unable to achieve success in school and in life. Connect-Us programs are designed to reach the bottom 90% of inner-city youth who may not be as accomplished or motivated, and provide opportunities to make them more successful – which can have a much greater societal impact.
Connect-Us programs accept all students irrespective of their academic accomplishments and capabilities, and provides a variety of enrichment experiences. Our programs reach young people who would not otherwise receive the invitation to participate in mainstream America, and we use performance as the way in. Young people in our programs have new experiences with each other, business professionals, and adult volunteers, and it creates a new kind of community. From these experiences develops a desire to learn and grow, as well as an ability for everyone involved to better participate in and navigate our increasingly complex world.