HMTCA-Trinity Partnership


The Trinity-HMTCA initiative is a unique “early college” experience that partners a local magnet high school with Trinity College. HMTCA is located on the Learning Corridor campus in the south end of Hartford. As an interdistrict magnet school that meets the goals of the Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation case, HMTCA enrolls half of its students from Hartford and half from surrounding towns.

Under the direction of the Dean of Faculty’s Office, the partnership between HMTCA and Trinity College began in 2011. The partnership with the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy promotes the College’s mission by creating opportunities for students and faculty in the College and students in the local community to engage, connect, and transform our city. With support from the President, faculty, and donors, the partnership is fully implemented and continues to grow.

Aspects of the Partnership

The HMTCA Summer Writing and Science Academy: Over the last six years, rising 9th grade students at HMTCA have attended a summer writing academy and 10th grade students have attended a summer science academy on Trinity’s campus. The academy courses are taught by a combination of Trinity faculty, HMTCA staff, and Trinity undergraduate students.

The HMTCA summer science academy features a uni que national collaboration. In 2015, the National Science Foundation awarded Trinity College and partners (Vassar Collece, Bryn Mawr College, Barnard College, Brown University) a grant to host a Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates for students interested in becoming science teachers. The grant supports the HMTCA science academy for 10th grade students, which is taught by promising liberal arts college students, including students at Trinity, majoring in science and supervised by local master science teachers.

HMTCA Students in Trinity College Courses: Through cooperation between Trinity faculty and HMTCA staff, a small number of selected and qualified HMTCA students in the senior class attended introductory-level Trinity College courses. Since 2014-15, fifty-five (55) HMTCA students enrolled and completed at least one course at Trinity. These classes included Calculus, Philosophy, Music, English Literature, Computer Science, Chemistry, Classics, Japanese, & Psychology.

HMTCA Classes on Trinity’s Campus: Trinity College has also hosted two HMTCA senior-level courses this semester on campus: HMTCA Senior English and Senior Project (CAPSTONE). Every HMTCA senior takes their Senior English course on Trinity’s campus.

Academic Collaboration between HMTCA & Trinity: In addition to these formal aspects of the partnership, HMTCA students and teachers have collaborated on academic and community learning projects with Trinity students and faculty. For example, Trinity college students observe and participate in classes at HMTCA as part of their Educational Studies 200 course, Analyzing Schools. Trinity students and faculty have also conducted a number of Community Learning projects at HMTCA meant to improve curriculum and student learning.

HMTCA Events and Activities at Trinity College:HMTCA students and staff have participated in events on Trinity’s campus such as the National Honors Society induction ceremony, jazz concerts, and other academic activities. A highlight of these activities is the HMTCA urban beekeepingcourse, which uses space near the Trinfo Café to keep beehives, which students tend and harvest in order to sell honey. The course promotes learning of science and business principles.

Oftentimes, activities are tailored to individual students and faculty. For instance, an HMTCA student performed with a Trinity student for the Instrumental Ensemble in Fall 2016 (pictured left, Abigail Dresser, HMTCA ’17; and right, Briana Daley, Trinity ’18).

On June 17, 2015, HMTCA celebrated its first graduation on Trinity’s Quad. The graduation celebrated the students’ accomplishments, as well as the assistance of all partners. . As of 2017, several HMTCA graduates now attend Trinity as regular students (pictured middle, Alex Tomcho, HMTCA ’15, Trinity ’19).

To learn more about the partnership, please visit the HMTCA website, contact Director at, or check out Urban Ed @ Trinity College.​


Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) Trinity Partnership Director

Robert Cotto, Jr. is currently the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy.

Since starting at Trinity College in April 2014, Robert has helped faculty and students to expand urban educational initiatives. These initiatives include the HMTCA-Trinity College partnership, various Community Learning Initiative courses, and other projects that connect Trinity to people in the City of Hartford.

He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College and his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In 2014, he earned an M.A. in American Studies here at Trinity College. He is serving his second term on the Hartford Board of Education and in the past has served as Secretary and Policy Committee Chair.

After returning back home to CT from college, Robert has lived in the Frog Hollow neighborhood and he recently moved to Hartford’s Southwest neighborhood. Robert writes about school choice and education policy at The Cities, Suburbs, and School Project.

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