Cassidy Fawcett '21, Political Science
Fall 2019 UConn Co-op Legacy Fellow - Change Grant Recipient
Urban Impact Program: Addressing Economic Inequality in Urban Education
About the Program:
Partnering with the Urban Impact organization in Bridgeport, CT, UConn Urban Impact was created to provide a new form of enrichment to underprivileged middle school students. While the curriculum at urban public schools has been meticulously designed for the student body as a whole, there is a vast under-provision of resources. As such, students in these schools have fewer opportunities to take part in extracurriculars, less access to learning materials, and receive less personalized attention from staff members than their suburban or private school peers. This division then reinforces the cycle-of-poverty as children graduate middle and high school with an inherent educational disadvantage in life. Through the Change Grant, I was able to start a club on campus that focuses on combating such issues by working with urban middle school students to promote extracurricular opportunities and higher education. In addition to educating participants about social injustices, the club has worked with members to develop ideas on further combating economic inequality and directly engage students in Urban Impact’s mentorship programs. Unique resources, namely carefully crafted literacy kits with a variety of educational components, were then designed and delivered to students in Bridgeport, CT through our partnership with the Urban Impact organization.
The Urban Impact club was founded on the idea of supplying urban middle school students with a day field trip focused on promoting higher education. After several revisions due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the project evolved to a club that engaged college students across UConn and inspired ideas of all kinds. While the grant money was primarily used to provide carefully crafted literacy kits to the students, the club will continue to evolve and further help urban middle school students much after this program giving this project its power. Since the formation of the club in 2019, it has engaged over 40 members at UConn and is now under the control of its second president, Le’Asia Gaskin. With passionate leadership and support from programs like the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship, UConn can continue to help battle resource inequality and the cycle-of-poverty in Connecticut cities.
Cassidy is a senior Political Science major with minors in Urban & Community Studies and Environmental Studies. As a child she participated in several mentorship programs such as these, leading her to then take a mentorship role in the Urban Impact organization for four years while in high school and college. Cassidy’s mission is to promote more resource allocation to programs such as these and to the grassroots charities that are tirelessly working to break the cycle-of-poverty.
Reflecting on this project, I am inspired by how many turns it took before coming to the final product. While the initial plan was to create a one-day field trip program for the students I previously mentored, it has now become a stable campus club engaging the voice of many college students with robust experience levels and various ideas. I initially recruited members of the club and designed the program myself, yet the final result has become more than I could have expected to do with the grant money because of the engagement of the campus community. Students in the campus club have become mentors with the organization in Bridgeport, have earned donations for the charity, and have furthered the mission by extending it to other schools and charities. I have received remarkable mentorship and assistance throughout this process and am excited to see what the future holds for the UConn Urban Impact club.