Fairfield University's partnership with Bridgeport schools 
earns State Merit Award from The New England Board of Higher Education

Image: ConferenceThe New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) announces that Fairfield University's partnership with Bridgeport Schools has earned its 2014 Connecticut State Merit Award. NEBHE is honoring Fairfield University's overall institutional commitment to Bridgeport Schools, the partnership's efforts to contribute to their mutual goals of preparing students for post-graduate success, and the university's commitment to access and success. 

Fairfield University's long-standing and multifaceted partnership with Bridgeport Schools includes such initiatives as the Community Partners Scholars program, the Bridgeport Tuition Program, Project Excel, and a number of community outreach programs such as the Connecticut Writing Project, Teacher Preparation internship programs, service-learning courses with university students tutoring K-3rd graders, the Bryant School Book Club facilitated through Campus Ministry, and enrichment programs for Bridgeport Schools presented by Fairfield's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

 "All universities and colleges have a responsibility to serve their neighbors and communities," said The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J., President, Fairfield University. "As a Jesuit and Catholic University, Fairfield has an even more explicit obligation. It is our mission to form men and women who will embrace their obligation to work in the service of their fellow men and women, to engage with the world as it is, and to do their utmost to transform their communities for the better. Our partnership with Bridgeport schools enriches us. It brings energy, strength, ingenuity, and love into our University community, and we are deeply grateful for all the benefits that we derive from that partnership."

"Fairfield University has been an outstanding community partner to the City of Bridgeport and our public schools," said Mayor Bill Finch of the City of Bridgeport. "The administration, staff, students and faculty are helping to improve the lives of young people in Bridgeport every day through numerous collaborative programs. We are very thankful for our partnership and are very proud of Father von Arx and the entire Fairfield University community for winning this award."

"As Chief Academic Officer for Bridgeport Public Schools and an alumna of Fairfield University I find this partnership to be mutually beneficial," said Amy Marshall, Chief Academic Officer for the City of Bridgeport. "Our students in Bridgeport are provided with broad based academic support and fulfilling enrichment experiences. Through their work in Bridgeport Public Schools, the students and staff from Fairfield University are living the mandate of St. Ignatius of Loyola to live a life of service above self. They are actively engaged in an environment that is rich in diversity in Bridgeport as they do their work."

The successful results of this partnership include:

  • Over $16 million in Fairfield University scholarships distributed through the Community Partners Scholars program.

  • Nearly $3 million in full scholarships to Fairfield University distributed through the Bridgeport Tuition Program.

  • More than 310 Bridgeport students benefiting overall from the Community Partners Scholars and Bridgeport Tuition program.

  • Nearly 400 Bridgeport students served by Project Excel; 280 students have graduated from Fairfield University and 90 are still enrolled.

  • Fifty student teachers from Fairfield's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) benefiting from collaborative student-teacher learning experiences with Bridgeport Public Schools (BPS) classroom teachers. 

  • Fairfield's Connecticut Writing Project providing over 100 hours of service to students and faculty at Bassick High School, including sponsored workshops to design stronger high school curriculum for college and career-ready writing.

  • A service-learning model that provides literacy support to over 400 Cesar Batalla School students, K-3rd grade, while supporting the education of over 200 Fairfield University students serving as literacy tutors through Fairfield University's Office of Service Learning and GSEAP.

  • Over 3,000 pre-school, elementary school and middle school students from throughout Fairfield County receiving enrichment and educational programs in ARTSBOUND Schoolday Series, provided by Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Fairfield University - Bridgeport schools partnership

Partnership Programs Descriptions

Community Partners ScholarsSince 1999, the University has sponsored the Community Partnership Scholars Program at four Bridgeport high schools (Bassick, Central, Harding and Kolbe-Cathedral). Through this program, Fairfield University collaborates with the schools on admission and financial aid mentoring, provides resources to cover group visits to campus, and funds a full tuition scholarship awarded every year at each of the four schools.

The Bridgeport Tuition Program

In 2009, Fairfield University began providing full tuition scholarships to Bridgeport high school students (from Bassick, Bridge Academy, Bridgeport International Academy, Bullard Havens Vo-Tech, Central, Harding, and Kolbe Cathedral) whose annual family income is under $50,000 and whose financial assets are typical of families with this annual income.

Project Excel

Project Excel is a federally funded Trio Student Support Services Program that empowers first generation and low income college students at Fairfield University to be academically and personally successful and to graduate in a timely manner. Services include a pre-college summer academic immersion program; ongoing academic tutoring; advice and assistance in postsecondary course selection; assistance in obtaining information on the full range of student financial aid programs, benefits and resources; education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of students; and assistance in applying for admission to graduate and professional programs. Other services available to students include assistance with internship and career planning, and/or researching post-graduation volunteer opportunities.

Fairfield's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions Partnership Programs

Fairfield's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has engaged Bridgeport Public Schools (BPS) as a priority partner for student teaching and internships.

  • GSEAP and the Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools initiated an internship program that situates student teachers as partners with classroom teachers. In 2012-13, 22 GSEAP students interned with Bridgeport public schools; over 25 students are registered to intern with Bridgeport schools this year.
  • In 2012-13, GSEAP worked with Fairfield University's continuing education program to develop a dual enrollment plan for four Bassick High School seniors. This year, the program will include up to 12 students.
  • The Connecticut Writing Project, situated at Fairfield University, provided over 100 hours of service to students and faculty at Bassick High School during 2012-2013. Through SEED funding (Supporting Effective Educator Development) from the National Writing Project, the program provided in-school support, and teachers were sponsored for attendance at literacy conferences, given assistance to build classroom libraries, and provided with workshops to design stronger curriculum for college and career-ready writing.
  • In May 2013, more than115 students from Bridgeport high schools attended a free daylong writing conference, Writing Our Lives-Bridgeport, at Fairfield University facilitated by professional writers.
  • In August 2013, 75 teachers from Bassick attended a day-long series of professional development workshops on Fairfield's campus focused on enhancing the interdisciplinary literacy practices at Bassick High School in support of the Common Core State Standards.
  • Devoted to improve urban education, the Connecticut Writing Project's Fairfield director, Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall, has worked year-round with district administration, faculty and students to help close achievement gaps.

Fairfield University's Office of Service Learning Partnership with Cesar Batalla School Fairfield University's Office of Service Learning works collaboratively with the GSEAP in sustaining a partnership with Cesar Batalla School designed to improve literacy skills for K-3rd grade students, increase college awareness, and provide enhanced learning opportunities for university students enrolled in service-learning courses.

  • Since the program's inception in the Fall 2011, 200 Fairfield University students have served as literacy tutors for over 400 Cesar Batalla School students through four service-learning courses (2 courses per semester annually).
  • In Fall 2012, 81% of Cesar Batalla 1st grade tutoring participants showed improvement in their sight word recognition; 20% of those students improved by 20% or more.
  • In Spring 2013, 86% of Cesar Batalla tutored 1st grade students improved in sight word recognition; 45% of those students improved by 25% or more.
  • Cesar Batalla classroom teachers offered positive qualitative feedback, citing improved enthusiasm for learning among their participating students.
  • 2011-12 data shows that 95% of university student tutors "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that "the service-learning course helped them to realize the importance of helping others throughout their lifetime."
  • Visits to campus were added in 2012-13, bringing more than 70 Cesar Batalla students to Fairfield's campus and engaging the participation of Nursing students and faculty, librarians, student athletes, and university tour guides.

Campus Ministry and the Bryant School Book Club For over ten years, Campus Ministry has partnered with Bryant Elementary School on the Bryant School Book Club. Every Tuesday university students meet with third graders at Bryant to read common materials and engage in learning activities and discussions. This afterschool enrichment program is a meaningful supplement to the third graders' learning while creating hands-on experience for university students who may be considering a profession in education.

ArtsBound Schoolday Series

Organized by Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts and hosted by national and international performers, an integral educational and artistic outreach resource available to all pre-school, elementary school and middle school students in Fairfield County.

View the press conference

Image: Fairfield University hosted a press conference on Friday, February 28, 2014, announcing that its partnership with Bridgeport Schools earned the 2014 CT State Merit Award from The New England board of Higher Education. Pictured (left to right) at the event are: Amy Marshall, Chief Academic Officer for the City of Bridgeport; Mayor Bill Finch of the City of Bridgeport; The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx S.J., President, Fairfield University; Anita Glinecki, President of Housatonic Community College, and Chair of the Bridgeport Higher Education Alliance; and Sr. Mary Grace Walsh, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport. (photo: Gwen Pellegrino)

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647, mhoryczun@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 28, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 185

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