Friday Night Lights in East Hartford

In October the East Hartford Public School District entered into a partnership with the GO Foundation to provide Fellows to tutor students in their middle school beginning in January. East Hartford was moving forward with the partnership after receiving a grant from the Connecticut State Department of Education to implement a high dosage tutoring program to help 6th, 7th and 8th grade students with math.

This has provided GO with a much shorter time frame for recruitment than usual — 10 weeks instead of 10 months — which has prompted us to throw out the usual recruitment playbook that centers on college campuses and instead conduct hyperlocal outreach centered on the East Hartford community.

That’s why last night I found myself at the East Hartford High School football game handing out flyers to spectators as they streamed in to watch the Hornets take on the Manchester Red Hawks. (photo here of the marching band taking the field just before kickoff). East Hartford is home to manufacturer Pratt & Whitney just outside of Connecticut’s capital city with a racially & ethnically diverse school district.

Last night’s flyer blitz came after several weeks of reaching out to groups as disparate as the African Community Resource Center (there is a large Ghanaian population in East Hartford); the city’s First Congregational Church on Main Street; Kojo’s Barbershop; the East Hartford Senior Center; and East Hartford Works, a local workforce development agency. To date, we have identified two very promising Fellow candidates; if you know of anyone who might be interested, forward this email to them and have them apply by clicking here.

We are so grateful for the all-star team in East Hartford helping this effort: math guru Bob Janes, who masterminded this high-dosage tutoring initiative; district leader Sonya Stemmer who’s knowledge of the community has been critical; bilingual educators Ashmarie Rodriguez & Surelys Ramos-Flores, who have been helping to get the word out to East Hartford’s Spanish speaking community; and Laura Roberts, the district’s communications lead. This is on top of GO’s powerhouse recruitment team working on this effort, led by Director Darius Rose as well as CJ Ingersoll and Grace Lee.

The hyperlocal approach to recruitment is not only a means to an end in finding up to 9 tutors by January 8th for East Hartford Middle School, it helps GO to fulfill its mission to recruit AmeriCorps Fellows who look like the students they serve. The playbook we are developing in East Hartford is one we intend to replicate in Newark, where we have hired a New Jersey based staffer who begins work on December 1st and will focus on recruitment for our largest partner, the Great Oaks Legacy Charter School.

In what I am taking as a promising omen, the East Hartford Hornets won last night’s game against their rivals from Manchester 40-33.

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