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
C-U Onstage! is a talent show program where young people aged 5 to 25 take responsibility for producing the shows — from inviting their friends and family, to leading the audience in appreciating and supporting every young person who performs on stage. This program is designed as a place for young people to network with one another, create new performances together, and learn how to be punctual, dependable and part of an ensemble. This is a powerful community-building activity, 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 15 to 25 years old who are interested in becoming civic leaders in their community. Young people in this program volunteer and take responsibility for producing successful community based events. They gain skills in public speaking, community organizing, and learn how to lead meetings, express their thoughts, and have productive discussions, even amid disagreements. Join anytime!
Connect-Us Academy is for youth aged 16 to 21 who want to cultivate skills and learn to work in a professional business setting. For 14 weeks, students attend weekly afterschool workshops at companies throughout Fairfield County. The program prepares young people to enter the workforce, pursue educational opportunities, and face challenges in new ways, and helps all involved to better participate in and navigate our increasingly complex world. Corporate partners come from a broad range of fields and industries, including finance, law, marketing, energy, interior design, fashion design, and health 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.