The Education Strategy builds upon the resources and capacity the Norwalk Housing Authority has developed over the past several years and incorporates the local resources available to support early childhood development through adult career advancement. The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative supports an Education Coordinator who works with Norwalk Public Schools and the staff at the Washington Village and 20 West Avenue Learning Centers. He also interfaces with the Norwalk Housing College Scholarship Foundation and the NHA administered Early Childhood and Head Start programs.
The Housing Authority has also engaged the services of Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU) and their staff of Case Managers and a Workforce Specialist. Working one-on-one with Washington Village residents, HOU performs individual assessments that include education and training needs. In collaboration with the NHA Education Coordinator unmet needs are identified and addressed and referrals are made to appropriate resources and support services.
The key community coordinator is Norwalk ACTS whose mission is "to enrich and improve the lives and futures of all Norwalk children and youth, from cradle-to-career." This conduit to the Norwalk Board of Education has established a close collaboration that facilitates intervention for at risk students.
The NHA also supports a Partnership Manager who facilitates collaborations with agencies who have entered into Memorandums of Understanding with the NHA for CNI involvement. Key community partners include the Norwalk Community College which provides both academic and vocational training and several youth agencies including the Carver Foundation, the Maritime Aquarium, the Norwalk Public Library, and the Stepping Stones Museum for Children. The Partnership Manager continues to identify potential new partners to complement or enhance our support network.
- Norwalk ACTS
- Norwalk Early Childhood Council
- Norwalk Housing Learning Centers
- Norwalk Housing Foundation College Scholarship Program
The Role of Norwalk ACTS in the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
The education strategy for the Washington Village/South Norwalk Transformation Plan, which will be spearheaded by Norwalk ACTS (Achievement, Community, Teams, Success), focuses on the coordinated implementation of a series of programs and reforms to improve the educational opportunities available to the residents of Washington Village (WV) and the South Norwalk neighborhood. The guiding vision for the education plan is an outgrowth of the work that Norwalk ACTS began in 2005. They worked with key education stakeholders to collaboratively identify and address the educational issues that prevent young people throughout the city of Norwalk from being successful at home, at school, and in the community. Today Norwalk ACTS is a network of 45 members representing the entire education continuum that recently became a STRIVE network member. The organization plays a vital role in coordinating educational programs around a common purpose of improving the lives and futures of Norwalk children and youth. Norwalk ACTS will work with its growing membership base to continuously refine the South Norwalk education strategy as resources emerge and new issues are uncovered.
The education strategy focuses on building and sustaining a comprehensive, evidence-based learning community where members of every household embrace the pursuit of high quality education as a positive, lifelong process. The strategy supports an integrated, multi-sector, place-based initiative that emphasizes closing achievement gaps. The strategy's vision is that South Norwalk residents of every age are engaged in meaningful, inviting learning experiences appropriate for every developmental stage that provide opportunities leading to personal growth and enrichment, professional gain, and life success. To achieve this vision, Norwalk ACTS will seek sustained systems change by working with its members to align and coordinate Norwalk's educational organizations, programs, and other assets to offer a diverse range of engaging learning opportunities for South Norwalk residents.
Norwalk ACTS is a diverse partnership of over 100 civic leaders, educators and organizations working collectively to achieve the mission of enriching and improving the lives and futures of all Norwalk's children, cradle to career.
We Are About Action
To ensure the success of all children in Norwalk, we are focused on results, improving upon what works, and changing what doesn't. We recognize that every individual and organization that impacts our children's growth, from cradle to career, is accountable, and that our collective voice is a part of the solution.
A quality preschool experience benefits children in many ways:
Academically: preschool teaches pre-literacy and numeracy skills which prepares children for kindergarten and beyond. Preschool also teaches children how to be students, by helping children get used to routines, develop problem solving skills, learn how to compromise with others, self-regulate their behavior and gain independence.
Socially: children learn the social skills necessary for a group setting. In preschool children make friends and develop important relationships and connections with other children and adults.
There are a variety of preschools in Norwalk including private providers and centers, and school-based programs. For families who qualify by family size and income, the State of Connecticut offers subsidies through various providers in Norwalk under the School Readiness program. These programs are indicated on the Preschool Guide.
Norwalk also has a Head Start program that is federally funded and free to qualifying families and administered by the CDI at two sites - Nathaniel Ely and Benjamin Franklin.
The city's only subsidized infant and toddler program is run by the Norwalk Housing Authority, also at the Nathaniel Ely and Ben Franklin locations.
- Bridgeport Rescue Mission
- The Carver Foundation
- Connecticut Association of Human Services
- The Maritime Aquarium
- Money Management International
- Norwalk Community College
- Norwalk Public Library
- Stepping Stones Museum for Children
- Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust
The Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Inc.
The Carver Foundation, in support of the Norwalk Housing Authority's Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan, will provide the following in-kind services for residents of Washington Village and the greater South Norwalk neighborhood:
- The Carver Foundation of Norwalk currently serves 26 Washington Village residents per year in its Youth Development Program and will continue to do so over the five year CNI grant period.
- In support of the CNI Transformation Plan, the Carver Foundation of Norwalk will develop and implement a new program initiative to provide five new slots for Washington Village residents in its Junior Youth Development program. Carver's Junior Development Program (YDP) is a student and family-centered afterschool program based at the Carver Community Center and at four middle schools and two high schools. Youth Development Program staff includes certified teachers hired from within the participating schools. Learning college and career-prep support, Carver presents its students with real-world, multidisciplinary problems that demand critical thinking, engagement, and collaboration.
- The Carver Foundation of Norwalk would provide five additional slots in the Senior Youth Development Program (Sr. YDP). This program serves high school and college students by offering daily tutoring, PSAT/SAT Prep, CAPT Prep and subject tutoring. Paid internship and jobs give strong students the opportunity to earn while they learn important job skills. College tours, meet the professionals and self-esteem groups give students the knowledge and guidance to graduate high school ready for college.
Connecticut Association of Human Services
In partnership with the IRS, Connecticut United Ways and local community organizations, CAHS coordinates an annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) campaign for low-income individuals and families. IRS-trained volunteers are certified to prepare tax returns, and to screen customers for special tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). CAHS has 40+ VITA sites throughout Connecticut. In 2014, trained VITA volunteers in two Norwalk locations prepared almost 400 tax returns including four CNI designated South Norwalk Community families, returning $694,582 in state and federal funds to local families. CAHS will increase the number of residents in the CNI designated South Norwalk Community served by VITA to 20 through expanded outreach and the addition of a third VITA site at the South Norwalk Community Center starting in 2016.
CAHS offers several free financial workshops for adults through the CT Money School. CAHS will provide three 2 two-hour financial workshops per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, serving approximately 10 Washington Village and CNI designated South Norwalk Community residents per workshop.
CAHS also offers free financial workshops for youth through the Youth Money School. CAHS will provide three 2 two-hour financial workshops per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, serving approximately 5 Washington Village and CNI designated South Norwalk Community youth residents per workshop.
The Maritime Aquarium
In support of the Norwalk Housing Authority's Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan, The Maritime Aquarium will provide the following in-kind services for residents of Washington Village and the greater South Norwalk neighborhood:
Free Aquarium admission for all students (estimated 2 visits / year by ~205 students). This commitment includes an estimated 70 children per year from Washington Village and 135 per year from the surrounding South Norwalk neighborhood.
The Maritime Aquarium will increase the number of age-appropriate residents of Washington Village and the greater South Norwalk neighborhood that receive free teen enrollment in the TeMPEST after school program. The Maritime Aquarium expects to serve about 40 students in 2013, adding 20 students per year through 2016.
Over the next five years, this investment has the potential to grow. This additional commitment includes an estimates 30 children per year from Washington Village and 50 children per year from the surrounding South Norwalk neighborhood.
Money Management International
Money Management International offers several free financial literacy workshops. Money Management International has offered 2 two-hour financial workshops per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, serving approximately 5 Washington Village and CNI designated South Norwalk Community residents per workshop.
Money Management International will add one extra free financial literacy workshop per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, provided scheduling permits and grant funding is available. Money Management International will increase the number of Washington Village and CNI designated South Norwalk Community residents served to a maximum of 25 per workshop.
Money Management International provides free credit counseling sessions by phone to help consumers gain control of their finances. A trained counselor will work with the consumer to develop a personal financial assessment by analyzing income, expenses, assets and liabilities. As a team, the counselor and consumer work together to create a livable spending plan and establish an action plan for achieving financial goals. Money Management International will provide free credit counseling sessions by phone for a maximum of 25 Washington Village and CNI designated South Norwalk Community residents.
Norwalk Community College
Information about Norwalk Community College can be found on our CNI Employment Services page.
Norwalk Public Library
In support of the Norwalk Housing Authority's Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan, the South Norwalk Branch Library will provide the following types of in-kind services for residents of Washington Village and the greater South Norwalk neighborhood:
- Adult ESL classes
- Early childhood (0-5) literacy programming - e.g. Bouncy, Bouncy Babies, Mostly Mother Goose and Timeless Tales story time programs; Mini Musicians music program and Short Film & A Craft.
- School age programming - e.g. book clubs, arts & craft activities and summer reading programs for all ages.
The South Norwalk Branch Library currently serves approximately 80 children ages 0-5 specifically from the CNI South Norwalk neighborhood boundary and will continue to do so over the five year CNI grant period.
The South Norwalk Branch Library currently serves approximately 200 school-age children specifically from the CNI South Norwalk neighborhood boundary and 50 school-age children from Washington Village and will continue to do so over the five year CNI grant period.
In support of the Transformation Plan, the South Norwalk Branch Library will develop and implement a new program initiative to provide early literacy programming for 40, 0-5 year olds living in Washington Village per year for the five year CNI grant period. This commitment is newly generated and is in direct support of the Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan.
In support of the CNI Transformation Plan, the South Norwalk Branch Library will develop and implement a new program initiative to provide ESL classes for 24 adults living in Washington Village per year for the five year CNI grant period. This commitment is newly generated and is in direct support of the Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
In support of the Norwalk Housing Authority's Washington Village/South Norwalk CNI Transformation Plan, Stepping Stones will provide museum visits for residents of Washington Village and the greater Norwalk Housing Authority population through the Open Arms Community Admission Pass Program in conjunction with the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.
Through this in-kind service, Stepping Stones will offer 12 individuals access to the museum each day (2 passes daily/ 6 people per pass) that the museum is open (354 days per year). Additionally, Washington Village will be given 2 group visits per year.
Stepping Stones will work with the Norwalk Housing Authority to bring one or both of its traveling mini exhibits, Heathlyville, mini exhibit and Conservation Quest mini exhibit to a mutually agreed upon location in South Norwalk for a total of four weeks per year.
Stepping Stones will remain committed to providing quality educational opportunities to the residents of Washington Village over the five year CNI grant period.
Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust
Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust is a community housing development agency and is also HUD and CHFA approved. Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust's mission is to lead, empower and change neighborhoods, improving quality of life through affordable housing opportunities and comprehensive homeownership services. Our homeownership services include classes, one-on-one consultations for first time homebuyers, and foreclosure prevention services for those at risk of losing their homes. Our target market is primarily Fairfield County but all our services are free of cost and open to anyone.
The Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust, in support of the Norwalk Housing Authority's Washington Village/South Norwalk Transformation Plan, will provide the following in-kind services for residents of Washington Village and the greater South Norwalk neighborhood in conjunction with a CNI grant and Transformation Plan:
- Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust provides free 8-hour first time home buyer pre-purchase certificate classes at its offices in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust will commit to offering 2 first time home buyer classes per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, for a maximum of 25 households each, provided grant funding is available.
- Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust provides free homeownership readiness consultations to potential homebuyers. A trained housing counselor reviews a family's financial history and identifies what steps need to be taken for the family to become mortgage eligible and ready to take on the responsibilities of homeownership. The counselor also assists each household in identifying barriers to homeownership and establishing an action plan to overcome same.
- Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust offers other workshops centered around homeownership, in addition to the 8-hour first time home buyer pre-purchase certificate classes. Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust will commit to offering 3 additional two-hour financial capability or homeownership workshops per year at a Norwalk Housing Authority location, for a maximum of 25 households each, provided grant funding is available.