Thanks to a new grant, more public schools students might dance better, speak more confidently in public, and have healthier teeth.
The new grant comes from Liberty Bank, which Wednesday gave a $20,000 grant to the BOOST! program.
BOOST! provides school programs like hip-hop and drama classes and free dental care. The bank officially handed over the cash at an afternoon event at John Martinez School in Fair Haven.
BOOST! — a partnership between the city, the Board of Ed, and United Way — pays for programs to fill identified needs of public school students. Clinton Avenue School, for instance, saw that students needed help improving their physical health. BOOST! paid for a hip-hop class so that students can get exercise and have fun.
“Support for the programs is really critical, we are grateful Liberty Bank stepped up. It really makes a difference,” said United Way’s Joshua Mamis.
Liberty Bank, founded in 1997, came to New Haven a year ago, and immediately began giving out grant money.
“When we opened we presented grants,” said Chandler Howard (pictured), president and CEO of Liberty Bank. Chandler is also president of the Liberty Bank Foundation, the lender’s grant-giving body. “We made a promise [that] when Liberty comes to town so does the foundation. I am thrilled! I think it’s a great thing for us to do.”
Sequella Coleman, principal of John Martinez School, said BOOST! “allows us to add additional programming.”
Coleman (pictured) had wanted a drama program for John Martinez School but found the school’s budget wasn’t big enough. Through the BOOST! program, in partnership with Long Wharf theater, the school’s 7th-graders have been able to have drama lessons every Wednesday. Although the kids enjoy their drama classes, Coleman has another motive: to help the kids become confident public speakers.
Along with the drama workshops, once a week a dental van comes by for children who need teeth cleanings but are without dental care. And Career High students provide individual tutoring for John Martinez students four days a week, also through BOOST!
“It helps fills in the gap to give kids experience,” said Coleman.
Liberty Bank also awarded grants to three other New Haven non-profit organizations: College Summit Connecticut, New Haven Ecology Project, and New Reach, Inc., known until recently as New Haven Home Recovery.
New Reach focuses on women and children in shelters. The organization provides after-school programs to help homeless youth.
“We are really excited about changing our name and helping people reach potential” said New Reach Development Manager Kristen McKay.