“Envisioning Social Change” Videos with Hartford Community Partners in the Community Action Gateway

In the Community Action Gateway, first-year students learn how to create social change with Hartford organizations, organizers, non-profit directors, and social entrepreneurs in Hartford. In Fall 2018, Community Action Gateway students created one-minute videos with their community partners that the organizations can use to promote their work.

Make the Road Connecticut is an “organization that builds membership with low-income and working class Latinos living in Bridgeport and Hartford. It has become a powerful voice on immigrant rights, worker rights, public schools, LGBTQ justice, and more.” Wendy Salto ’22, Rakan AlZhaga ’22, and Olivia Louthen ’22 worked with Make the Road’s committee “Madres Guerreras” whose mission is to learn and engage with the school system, their families, and the committee to give their children the best possible education. Mirka Dominguez of Make the Road CT told students:

“It’s those small steps that are what is sustainable. These issues we are fighting have been around for hundreds of years. They are systemic. Huge movements are not sustainable and allies get tired really quickly. It’s the baby steps that make the change.” – Mirka Dominguez, Make the Road CT Community Organizer

Christian Activities Council is an organization developing leaders who act collectively for social justice in Greater Hartford. Their work includes organizing clergy to build multi-faith, multi-issue power organization in Metro-Hartford as well as neighborhood organizing on particular issues. Leah Swope ’22, Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22, and Renita Washington ’22 learned about all facets of their organizing, including the No More Slumlords campaign where tenants in affordable housing complexes in the North End have demanded better living conditions.  Organizer and Pastor AJ Johnson told students,

“CAC is doing some amazing, life-changing work. We listen to the issues in the community and find out if they are actionable, winnable, and accountable. We are calling on the churches in any community to be the dog that is ready to fight for the people in the community.”

Billings Forge Community Works is an organization that operates two cafes in Hartford and offers job training to residents who have faces challenges in accessing employment. Keane Fajardo ’22, Coleman McJessy ’22, and Djamilatou Camara ’22 learned about the Culinary Job training program which includes on the job training in culinary skills, Servsafe training and certification, and a job counselor to work on resume development, mock interviews, and the job search.

When you eat at the Kitchen, you are supporting more than just a local business. You are supporting a mission: making lives better through food.

reSET Social Enterprise Trust is a non-profit organization advancing the social enterprise sector. They are a go-to place for impact entrepreneurs offering impact accelerator programs, co-working space and community forums, mentor networking, and more. Kien Le ’22, Sophia Lopez ’22, and Dasha Maliauskaya support entrepreneurs in creating market-based solutions to community challenges.

These organizations can show people that they can do something if they have the resources to make change. They are giving people the chance to fight for something. You don’t need to have a particular background in something if you can find the resources, find the “how” and empower people.” -Dasha Maliauskaya ’22

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is working to ensure that all people have equal access to housing opportunities in Connecticut, free from discrimination. India Rhodes ’22, Karolina Barrientos ’22, and Richard Perry III ’22 learned about the intersection of poverty and housing discrimination, foreclosure prevention, anti-predatory lending, and fair lending efforts in the organization’s work.

“We are the only agency  in the state that protects housing civil rights. At the Connecticut Fair Housing Center we want people to know that we are here, and we’re here to protect their rights.” -James Dresser, Fair Housing Specialist

Thank you to Professor Serena Laws, Associate Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline, and Faculty Director of Community Learning Jack Dougherty. To learn more about Community Learning, click here.