We at the Middlesex United Way are very proud to call Middletown our home, and we are trying our best to help encourage and assist our fellow community members. Like many other cities around the state, we have residents who are facing adversity on a daily basis, and we make it our mission to try and find new ways to assist. Fortunately for us, we are now working on a major new initiative that has the potential to create substantial and long-term positive changes.
Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston identified Middletown as one of 10 winning Connecticut cities to participate in its Working Cities Challenge, which grants monies to deserving cities to help develop ways to promote economic growth.
Middletown received a $15,000 design grant to develop a plan to improve the lives of low-income Middletown residents by decreasing poverty rates among single heads of household with children under 18, hoping to reduce our current rate of 41 percent to our goal of 25 percent over the next 10 years.
Since March, a collaborative team led by Middlesex United Way, The Connection and the city of Middletown, representatives from over 30 other organizations and businesses and Middletown residents have been meeting monthly to develop a plan to achieve this goal, and in turn, improve the lives of low-income residents. This plan reflects the financial struggles of single parents in poverty and identifies economic and other supports needed to help them achieve financial stability and economic independence. This would be accomplished through increased employment opportunities, strategic coalition building and targeted system changes.
The collaborative team will submit this plan to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Nov. 30 with the hopes of receiving a much larger implementation grant of $450,000 over a three-year period. These funds, along with a required match of $45,000, will support the implementation of different strategies and provide resources to help single parents in need begin their journey toward financial stability.
We believe Middletown’s culture of compassion and collaboration will make us successful in securing this grant. However, there is more work that needs to be done and that is why we are here asking for help.
We are still conducting community conversations with single parents who are struggling financially, as well as meeting with employers to learn more about their needs when it comes to recruiting and maintaining a stable and productive workforce. This insight from employers is essential for us to use when developing strategies and programs around career paths for individuals looking for work.
If you are a single parent or work with single parents, or are a business owner, we would like to speak to you, either as a group or individually, so we can include your perspective in our grant application. If you would like to participate or to learn more about this effort, call Ed Bonilla, vice president of community impact for the Middlesex United Way, at 860-346-8695.