— Contributed photo
June 19, 2018 — Less than ten miles from our town borders, Bridgeport's PT Barnum housing complex is home for some of the most impoverished residents of Connecticut.
Urban Impact, a volunteer group founded ten years ago at Fairfield's Black Rock Church, is having a fundraiser on June 23 to support children's educational and mentoring programs. You can offer your support here.
We spoke with the organization's executive director, Weston's Chris Myers, to learn more about what Urban Impact does.
First, the June 23 event is a Hike-A-Thon. It is the main fundraising activity for a summer camp for about 30 kids. Volunteers, mentors, and supporters will hike with PT Barnum children at Collis P. Huntington Park. You can support them by sponsoring a hiker or making a direct donation.
Urban Impact runs several programs. About 90 volunteers a week — some from Weston, more always welcome — do in-school tutoring and mentoring. They also conduct evening programs, which include a meal.
The group's XLR8 program, which helps children with homework, runs three nights a week. A PrimeTime mentoring program is held at Geraldine Claytor Magnet Academy Tuesday evenings. A program called KidPower is conducted during academy school hours and provides kids one-on-one time with an adult to work on reading, writing and arithmetic.
Roughly 25 percent of Urban Impact's funding comes from grants. About 15 percent comes from churches and foundations. The rest — about 60 percent — is dependent on the generosity of individual donors.
Some perspective about the value of this work.
Reading proficiency in Connecticut is around 70 percent. In Fairfield County, it is more than 88 percent. At PT Barnum, it is 6.5 percent. Urban Impact is making a difference, but there is more to be done, and more support is needed.
Learn more about Urban Impact at its website.