OCTOBER news & updates
October 5th, 2021
When I think of Hispanic Heritage Month, I think of how proud I am to be on this team representing my culture! I was born and raised in Norwalk, however, my blood is Paisa, a term used in Colombia to address a fellow friend. I come from a big family and we are now in our fourth generation. Celebrating the holidays in Colombia are some of my favorite childhood memories. The city is covered in lights, music, joy, and record-breaking decorations. There is nothing like Christmas in Medellin. I believe when we celebrate the Hispanic culture, it is also a humble reminder of how hard families (from other cultures also) have worked for generations to provide a home, an opportunity for education, and the ability to create our own lives. Let us continue to celebrate our accomplishments, our families, our loved ones and take pride in our beautifully diverse community.
During our September Quarterly Convening, we unveiled a new mission and a new vision statement based on our member's feedback. You can read them here or below. We look forward to continually improving our work and transforming the community.
Check out the new Census information on the Data Resources page. We’ve included links to CT Data Collaborative 2021 Norwalk Town Profile and new Census Reports and the Data Haven 2021 Equity Profile for Norwalk.
We would appreciate your feedback on the draft racial equity statement. Your feedback will be used by the Equity Core team to inform its further development ahead of future adoption of the statement by the Norwalk ACTS membership.
Thank you to our friends at the YWCA Greenwich’s Center for Equity and Justice for sharing a recording of this terrific conversation recently held on Dispelling Myths: Critical Race Theory & Talking about Racism. We highly recommend it to our members.
Community Advocates (CAs) were out and about in Norwalk this summer, reaching out to neighbors, friends, and family. In addition to participating in the monthly Norwalk Community Days, they have attended planning and strategy meetings focused on our Social Justice & Racial Equity, Policy & Advocacy, College and Workforce Readiness, Prenatal to 3rd Grade Initiative, and Social Emotional Health Initiative work. Besides the specific Norwalk ACTS advocacy, they also were involved with other community groups and task forces.

Over the past couple of months, CAs have participated in new advocacy opportunities such as:
  • Raising awareness about the Norwalk Housing Authority - Roodner Court Resident Advisory Council nomination meeting in August and election in October.
  • Joining School Governance Councils at Norwalk Public Schools
  • Participating in the Norwalk/Child Development Infoline Early Childhood Initiative Pilot Program as Early Childhood Education Community Advocates. They will develop supportive relations with preschool parents and improve parent understanding and completion of the Ages & Stages Questionnaire-3.

If you know of any other advocacy opportunities CAs may be interested in, please forward them to MJ or Anamilena. Please take a moment to read about these dedicated, compassionate, and active community members below.
Camila Vallejo
As a lifelong resident, Camila has strong ties to the city. She attended Norwalk Public Schools and is excited to be a community advocate. Camila hopes to make an impact on her community and is interested in both the learning and leadership opportunities through Norwalk ACTS.
Christopher Mahanna
As a youth member, Christopher is a lifelong resident of Norwalk and attended Norwalk Public Schools. He is excited to share his ideas to help better the lives of children and youth in Norwalk.
Doreen Anderson
Doreen has lived in Norwalk for over forty years and has raised two daughters whom both attended Norwalk Public Schools. As a teacher and a community advocate, Doreen is looking forward to connecting with families and hopes to build bridges between the community and the Norwalk Public School System to improve outcomes for children and youth in Norwalk.
Barbara Beaujour
A Norwalk native, Barbara is a first-generation American born to Haitian immigrants. Now, coming full circle, her son is brilliantly following in her footsteps, attending the same elementary school. Although busy working full-time outside of the home, Barbara is committed to being involved with organizations that either directly or indirectly affect the quality of her son’s education, health, and safety. She believes strongly that it takes a village to raise a child, and is excited to serve her community as a community advocate at Norwalk ACTS.
Michael Broncati
Michael owns Keep Kickin Soccer in Norwalk, which offers programs, clinics, and camps for people of all ages and abilities. In addition, Michael offers special opportunities to provide scholarships to underserved communities that would not typically have the opportunity or access to soccer programs. Right now, he is keeping busy with his two puppies and is looking forward to being a part of Norwalk ACTS.
Angel Dorleans
Angel is a lifelong resident of Norwalk and currently has a 4-year-old daughter in the Norwalk Public School System. In identifying resources for her daughter, Angel has spent a great deal of time learning about the community and the resources it has to offer. As a community advocate, Angel is looking forward to becoming more involved in the community, as well as assisting families in “learning the ropes."
Laura Garcia
Originally from Guatemala, Laura has lived in Norwalk for nearly eight years. She is passionate about helping those who experience injustice, especially the Hispanic and immigrant communities. Laura is a second-generation activist, working as a SNAP outreach coordinator and a member of the National Workers Alliance. She is excited about becoming a part of Norwalk ACTS as a community advocate, helping to raise the voices of those who are not heard.
Maria Guzman
Born in Puerto Rico, Maria has lived in Norwalk for 11 years. Her personal experiences have made her passionate about becoming involved with the immigrant and Latino communities. Maria is excited about working in her community as a Norwalk ACTS community advocate, helping people prosper. 
Erika Hernandez
Originally from Mexico, Erika Hernandez has lived in Norwalk for 7 years and is the mother of two children, who are both enrolled in the Norwalk Public School System. As a community advocate, Erika is interested in learning more about the needs of her community, advocating to improve the lives of Norwalk children and young people, and helping in “making our schools the best they can be.”
Sonia Morales
Sonia is a social worker and has lived in Norwalk for over 15 years. She is excited about becoming a community advocate and is interested in raising awareness about culture and diversity in Norwalk. Sonia is particularly interested in working towards policy changes to help improve the outcomes for children and youth.
Diana Revolus
A former board member of Norwalk ACTS, Diana was recently appointed to the Common Council in Norwalk. As a second-generation community activist, she has strong ties to the Haitian community. Diana is looking forward to this new role at Norwalk ACTS and continuing to have a positive impact on the city.
Francis Nunez
Over the past ten years, Francis has been volunteering and working in Norwalk including working at the Norwalk Community Center in South Norwalk until it closed. She has dedicated her life to helping undocumented residents and other community members. Even though Francis does not live in Norwalk, she considers Norwalk her hometown. Based on her life experiences in Norwalk, she feels the people of Norwalk are very warm and trusting.
Jayden Whitmore
Born in Bridgeport, Jayden has lived in Norwalk for 13 years. He attends Norwalk Public Schools and is looking forward to representing his community as a community advocate through Norwalk ACTS. Jayden hopes to gain both experience and leadership skills.

Free and open art classes for interested Norwalk area high school students (grades 9-12). 10 spots are available per class, registration is required.

Please email info@thenorwalkartspace.org with any questions.
Election Day is November 2nd! Local elections often have more direct implications on communities than state or federal ones. We seek to increase awareness about candidates running for elected office and encourage voter registration and participation. Check out www.vote411.org for nonpartisan information about upcoming elections.
Please join us on October 27th as we partner with the Center for Youth Leadership to host a Board of Education candidate forum. To date, this is the only candidate forum planned so please help spread the word!
Please join the Office of Congresswoman Jahana Hayes TODAY for an informative webinar about resources available to help under-served community members access federal relief.

This session will offer service providers, community leaders, and compassionate neighbors the knowledge and tools necessary to support those who may need to register online for the Advance Child Tax Credit and Economic Impact Payments (stimulus) relief.
Many of our low-income neighbors will not receive crucial federal relief efforts without filing a simplified tax return via an IRS-affiliated website. Individuals who do not typically earn enough to file taxes likely do not know that they still qualify for these vital relief payments, and they may not know how to access them. The IRS is relying on community partners like you to spread awareness and offer support to ensure federal relief funds reach those who need them the most.

Join us TODAY, Tuesday, October 5th at 3 PM to learn how to help. To RSVP, register for the meeting with the Zoom link: Click Here.
In terms of mental health: the youth survey data that we collected through The Norwalk Partnership showed serious concerns around youth suicide which will be a focus of the October 22 SEH discussion. Positive Directions is hosting a suicide gatekeeper training, Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) on October 21, 2021; additional training opportunities will continue in the coming months.
Apply to join the CT Afterschool Network’s 2 year STEM CLASP cohort that will connect realistic, relevant, and hands-on learning and networking opportunities for you as educators to add to your resources, practices, and tools that will help you build opportunities for supporting the young learners in your programs to find the possibilities and skills that come from powerful learning experiences and thoughtful partnerships. We will review and explore various practices, frameworks, and evaluation tools, connect with STEM providers as we explore creative approaches to engaging your students in a realistic and sustainable way that you can build into your programming long term. And most of all, plan to have fun as we try out some experiments, activities, and opportunities first hand.

Additionally, participants have the opportunity to apply for $1000 mini-grants for their summer programs to implement content they have been working on throughout the year each year. This cohort is for 2 years and is funded in part by the Connecticut NASA Space Grants Consortium and the Million Girls Moonshot through STEM Next and is free to participants. The first session starts on November 12th. Register here.
Left to right, Deborah Costello (School Counselor P-TECH Norwalk), Karen Amaker, (Principal P-TECH Norwalk), Dr. Thomas McBryde (Deputy Superintendent of Excellence, Equity, and Inclusion), Jennifer Barahona (CEO, Norwalk ACTS)
Congratulations to P-TECH Norwalk for earning the Commissioner’s Award for winning the 2021 Connecticut Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Challenge. The Commissioner’s Award is presented to the school that shows the highest FAFSA completion rate amongst similarly sized schools, relative to the previous year.

P-TECH collaborated with Norwalk ACTS as a FAFSA Challenge co-applicant to develop an action plan and monitor weekly data throughout the challenge. Norwalk ACTS also helped secure funding from People's United Bank to cover the costs for Norwalk Author Stacia Morris to sign and distribute her book Teen Money 101 to all graduating seniors to celebrate their accomplishment of completing the FAFSA.

P-TECH had 77.9 percent of its class of 2021 complete the FAFSA, raising the bar for completion rate for high school students across Connecticut. As a reward for this accomplishment, P-TECH was granted $5,000 to be used toward innovative strategies for boosting FAFSA completion rates for the class of 2022.
GIVE WHILE YOU SHOP: Are you an Amazon shopper? Set Norwalk ACTS as your selected charity on Amazon Smile, and a portion of every purchase will be donated to transforming how community works. Get started here.