Community Learning Research Fellows Present Hartford Projects: Bilingual Education, Gun Violence Prevention, Child Care, Maternal Mortality, Sexual Health Education, Park Usage

This week, Hallden Hall was buzzing with Trinity students, faculty, staff and Hartford community partners as ten of our Community Learning Research Fellows presented the results of their semester long projects. Throughout the semester, these fellows have worked closely with Professor Laura Holt, TA Samantha McCarthy ’21, Community Consultant James Jeter, and Trinity faculty advisors to design and execute community-based research projects in partnership with Hartford organizations. The topics were wide-ranging in terms of topic area, research methods, and type of organization partnered with. 

Fellows Coordinator Professor Laura Holt, Community Consultant James Jeter, and Director of Community Learning Megan Faver Hartline

Each week during the semester, the fellows explored a series of different topics: identifying a question and designing a research project, communicating a research plan, developing good interview skills and techniques, analyzing and visualizing data, designing visual presentations and posters, and managing expectations and addressing challenges in collaborative projects. Instructor Laura Holt provided s syllabus full of helpful resources, presentations from subject area experts in the Trinity community such as Instructional Technologist Dave Tatem and Liberal Arts Action Lab Director Megan Brown, as well as a number of useful public resources such as the Community Toolbox.

These Fellows have taken significant leadership roles in their own learning this semester, and we are so pleased to see them joining a group of dedicated faculty, staff, students, and community partners who are committed to Hartford. Take a look at photos and electronic versions of their posters below.

Emily Schroeder ‘20 – Community College Student-Parents: Experience, Persistence, and Outcomes

Community Partner: CT Early Childhood Alliance (CECA)
Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

Merrill Gay (CT Early Childhood Alliance) and Emily Schroeder ’20

Abstract: Adults who occupy both the role of student and parent represent a unique population within the American higher education system, as they must balance their dual responsibilities in the classroom and at home.  Unfortunately, little research on “student parents” exists regarding the additional challenges they face as they balance their responsibilities and the degree of success they find in their academic careers.Thus, in partnership with the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (CECA) and Capital Community College, we endeavored to answer the question of what differences exist between the experiences of parent and non-parent students in regards to their attendance, persistence, and experience in community college, as well as how student parents navigate their long-term educational goals versus the immediate responsibilities of parenthood.  I used a mixed methods approach, using qualitative interviews of two parents as well as data from the 2012-17 Beginning Postsecondary Student Survey from the National Center for Educational Statistics to answer these questions. As Connecticut is one of two states that severely restricts access to childcare subsidies to only parents on TANF, this study will help the CECA, who seeks to use the results to help pass legislation in the upcoming Connecticut Sessions.

Emily Schroeder Final Poster

Isabelle Alexandre ‘20 – Examining Differences in Maternal Care of Women with Medicaid vs. Private Insurance: Phase 1

Community Partner: YWCA Hartford
Faculty advisor: Dina Anselmi

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Carlos Espinosa, and Isabelle Alexandre ’20

Abstract: According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country in the world, with 26.4 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The prevalence in Connecticut is 19.0 deaths per 100,000 live births. Research has identified factors contributing to the high maternal mortality rate in the U.S; however, it is less clear whether these factors also are at play in Connecticut. The number one contributing factor to high maternal mortality rates is access to insurance or lack thereof. Less access to insurance leads to diminished access to prenatal care, which can further adverse health effects for pregnant and postpartum women. This project aims to compare maternal pre and postpartum care for individuals on Medicaid versus private insurance in Connecticut for women of all ages that have experienced birth in the last 12 months. The methodology of this project involves a two-step process. The first step will be interviewing approximately five YWCA partners to ascertain their perspectives on critical care needed for a healthy pregnancy. The second step will be to conduct focus groups of women identified by the YWCA partners. The results obtained from the focus groups will help to develop a series of recommendations for the YWCA as it develops its policies to address gaps in service that limit women in having equitable care.

CLIC Fellows presentation 2.0

Alejandra Zaldivar ‘20 – State of Bilingual Education in Hartford: Opportunities for Growth

Community Partner: City of Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez ’04
Faculty advisor: Aidalí Aponté-Aviles

Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez ’04, Alejandra Zaldivar ’20, Former Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools Hernan LaFontaine, and Professor Aidalí Aponté-Aviles

Abstract: This project analyzes which Hartford elementary schools currently have bilingual programs. There is a necessity to see the evolution of bilingual programs over the recent years. To gain a better understanding of how many students are learning English as a second language, I examined individual school reports between 2017 and 2018. Also, I analyzed the demographics of seven Hartford schools to determine why these schools have bilingual programs. Furthermore, I interviewed two officials from the Department of Education to understand the condition and background of this program in the state. Two key findings were that there are two different bilingual education practices within the Hartford Public Schools: transitional bilingual programs and dual language programs. Overall, these two bilingual programs differ in their purpose, duration and how much funding and resources they receive each year.

Abstract: Ale Final Poster Draft

Jackie Monzon ‘20 – Cultural Variation in Parents’ School Engagement: Evidence from the Jubilee House

Community Partner: Jubilee House
Faculty advisor: Stefanie Wong

Michele Prizio (Jubilee House/House of Bread), Brenda Ordonez ’22, and Jackie Monzon ’20

Abstract: There are many different challenges immigrant parents face that limit them from being physically involved in school, including language barriers, conflicting work schedules, and cultural barriers. However, research has shown that just because immigrant parents cannot always meet the standard definition of what it means to be an “involved parent” in the United States, it does not mean they are uninvolved or do not value the education of their children. Since 1997, the Jubilee House has been a community adult education and social service center that serves the Hartford immigrant and refugee population. The Jubilee House provides many resources, especially English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) classes. The mission of the staff at Jubilee House is to help immigrants and refugees become proficient in the English language so that they can sustain independence to find employment, find social networks, become active citizens and community members, and if applicable, be able to help their children also be successful. Given that many people who use Jubilee House’s services are parents, I sought to examine the following research questions: How do a parent’s studies impact their children? What practices and supports could be added into the Jubilee Program to promote family literacy? I conducted semi-structured interviews with parents at Jubilee House to explore how they think about their child’s education and how they are involved. I identified four key themes from parents’ responses: specific roles they enact to support their children’s education, aspirations and goals they have for their children, values they wish to teach their children, and how their education at Jubilee House sets an example for their children. I offer specific suggestions for how Jubilee House might expand their programming to meet the needs of immigrant parents.

Jackie Monzon Final Poster

Brenda Ordonez ’22 – Challenges Encountered by Adult ESL Tutors in the Classroom: A Study of ESL Resources at Jubilee House

Community Partner: Jubilee House
Faculty advisor: Stefanie Wong

Brenda Ordonez ’22 presents findings

Abstract: Adult literacy and ESL programs face unique challenges that K-12 or higher education settings do not encounter. ESL programs often have a limited budget and are run by community organizations that have volunteer teachers with little to no experience or training in teaching a language and literacy class or other pedagogical content knowledge. Jubilee House provides English literacy and social integration services to Hartford residents, especially immigrants and refugees. Through these programs, Jubilee House is able to help its students become active citizens and sustain their independence. Given the amount of preparation Jubilee tutors receive and the limited resources offered, my research question focused on the following: What kinds of ESL resources currently exist at Jubilee House and what do tutors find most helpful and useful about them? What kinds of additional resources do new tutors want? To answer this question, I conducted interviews with both incoming tutors and experienced ESL tutors on what resources they currently use in their teaching and what type of resources they would like, but can’t easily access. Additionally, I analyzed the characteristics of each type of resource to determine what components they share and/or how they differ. I provide recommendations on how my findings can be used to develop a tutor orientation packet for new tutors with Jubilee House’s ESL program.

Jubilee House Final Poster Brenda Ordonez

Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ‘22 and Richard Perry ‘22 – Uncovering Data on Firearms Recovered in Hartford

Community Partner: CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities that Care
Faculty advisor: Sarah Raskin

Professor Sarah Raskin, Larry Johnson (Hartford Communities That Care), Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22, and Richard Perry III ’22
Joe Barber, Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22, and Richard Perry III ’22

Abstract: While hundreds of illegal firearms are confiscated in Hartford every year, there persists a staggering lack of publicly-available information on these guns. This has provided a considerable challenge to our community partners, CT Against Gun Violence and Hartford Communities That Care, two local organizations committed to reducing gun violence. In our research, we aim to remedy these informational deficiencies and provide data which will support their advocacy efforts. Our research was guided by three specific questions: First, what types of firearms are recovered in Hartford? Second, what criminal offense is associated with each recovered weapon? Finally, what is the geographic distribution of these recovered firearms? From the Major Crimes Unit of the Hartford Police Department, we obtained data on six hundred and forty-five firearms recovered in the city between January 1, 2018 and October 26, 2019. We subsequently consolidated and visually represented this data in a more accessible format than the complex Excel sheets and crime reports we received. As our final product, we analyzed and visualized the emerging trends in order to deliver our community partners useful visualizations of this previously inaccessible data.

CLIC poster Richard and Olivia

William Tjeltveit ‘20 – Modeling Visitation at Coltsville National Historical Park

Community Partner: National Park Service
Faculty advisor: Daniel Douglas

Kelly Feltner and Andrew Long (National Park Service, William Tjeltveit ’20, and Dan Douglas

Abstract: Coltsville National Historical Park (NHP), located in the City of Hartford, will be one of the first of its kind, combining an already present city park with a new federal historical interpretive center. Before it can become a full National Historical Park, both the City of Hartford and the National Park Service need a clearer understanding of how often the park will be visited and how people will use the new park. To make these projections, I have undertaken several tasks. I combined a model designed to estimate park visitation with progressive modeling of similar National Historical Parks and data of set park usage. Doing so allowed me to estimate visitation for the future Coltsville NHP based on a number of different scenarios. With no real renovations to the city park and a small visitor center, visitation is predicted to be 439,483. With thorough renovations and the visitor center, annual visitation would be predicted at roughly 541,316 persons. With this information, along with suggested methods for increasing confidence, not only will Coltsville will be one step closer to becoming an official National Historical Park, but other new sites will be able to employ a simple method of estimating park usage.

Tjeltveit Park Visitation Poster

Eleanor Faraguna ‘21 – Organizing Strategies for Comprehensive Sexuality Education Campaigns in Connecticut

Community Partner: NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut
Faculty advisors: Erica Crowley and Jack Dougherty

Liz Gustafson (NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut) and Eleanor Faraguna ’21

Abstract: In my research, I examined the basic principles of community organizing, including issue development, leadership development, and coalition building, to support the Healthy Youth Coalition’s effort to organize and pass statewide comprehensive sexual health education in Connecticut. For my methodology, I conducted an extensive literature review on sexual health campaigns, undertook interviews with major stakeholders such as Planned Parenthood and lawmakers, and I describe a case study in which I analyze the current comprehensive sexual health campaign efforts in New York. I offer specific recommendations on how the Healthy Youth Coalition by applying successful elements of the New York campaign. This report will be utilized by members of the Healthy Youth Coalition to understand the realities and challenges of organizing a comprehensive sexual health campaign in Connecticut.

Eleanor Faraguna final presentation

Download a PDF of Eleanor’s report here.

HYC report-4

Renita Washington ’22 – What do Higher Socioeconomic Families Value in Child Care Centers?

Community Partner: Trinity College Community Child Care Center (TC4)
Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

Renita Washington ’22 presents.

Abstract: Trinity College Community Child Care Center (TC4) has served children, ages six weeks – 5 years, and their families since 1985. Their mission is to “serve the children and families of the surrounding Hartford community and the Trinity College community by providing high-quality education in a safe and nurturing environment that celebrates the diversity…” TC4’s goal is to serve a diverse group of families, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or disabilities. TC4 is interested in recruiting more higher-income families to ensure they can continue to meet the needs of the Center as it servers various populations. To support TC4 in meeting this goal, I undertook two steps: First, I analyzed anonymized enrollment records from the Center to determine what types of families (SES, Trinity or community membership, other demographic factors) TC4 has served/subsidized with scholarships over time. Second, I interviewed eight families from higher SES backgrounds to determine what qualities are most important to them when they are looking for child care. I found that enrollment of low-income families at TC4 has been relatively stable over the last 10 years and that there is significant racial/ethnic diversity among enrolled children. I also found that higher socioeconomic families prioritize location, NAEYC accreditation, and cost, but may assume that TC4 only enrolls families affiliated with Trinity.

Renita Washington Final Poster small size

Manny Rodriguez ‘20 – Connecticut Pre-K Policy, Parental Choice, and the Trinity College Community Child Center

Community Partner: Trinity College Community Child Care Center (TC4)
Faculty advisor: Jack Dougherty

Manny Rodriguez ’20 presents.

Abstract: Traditional public-school programs in Connecticut have experienced being pushed out and overtaken by newer schooling options such as magnet and charter schools. This has largely occurred due to the landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill decision, which resulted in a host of regulations and policies aimed at ensuring schools were well integrated across the state. One of these policies called for the development of magnet schools. The influx of magnet pre-k programs has caused preschools like the Trinity College Community Child Center (TC4) to lose enrollees and, in turn, revenue. For this project, I researched how state funding policy changes impact the decision-making process of parents when deciding where to send their children to school. Specifically, I sought to discover how the growth of magnet pre-k programs in Connecticut has influenced the decisions families make when choosing who will care for their 3-to-5-year-old children. I conducted research analyzing data from the CT Office of Early Childhood the CT State Department of Education, and other scholarly sources. I also conducted qualitative interviews with current and formerly enrolled parents at TC4 to investigate what traits they find attractive in pre-k programs. The results show that parents are generally more pragmatic than idealistic when it comes to where to send their children for childcare. Many parents expressed that they would send their children to a traditional public school if it was more convenient, but others saw those programs as too under-resourced and underperforming. Overall, parents identified issues within the magnet system but still wanted to do what was best for their children’s future.

Manny Rodriguez Final Poster

Community Action Gateway alum who joined the Research Fellows.

Congratulations to all the Fall 2019 Fellows. To learn more about the Community Learning Research Fellows Program, visit or contact Program Coordinator or Director of Community Learning