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(Middletown, CT. Jan. 19, 2021.) David W. Glidden, President and CEO of Liberty Bank and President of the Liberty Bank Foundation, today announced the Liberty Bank team has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Middlesex County NAACP to support two much-needed and timely programming initiatives for children and adults.

The $10,000 grant, through the Liberty Bank Foundation, will support two critical programs offered by the Middlesex County NAACP: “Young Reader’s Pilot Reading Program for African American and Latino Boys” and “Protecting our Health from the Impacts of Race, Racism, and COVID-19.”

“Liberty Bank and the Middlesex County NAACP have been longtime, deep-rooted community partners whose collaboration is more important than ever as our communities, our state and our country face momentous challenges when it comes to race, equality and justice and the impact of the pandemic,” said Glidden. “This grant not only ensures that People of Color of all ages have access to impactful and timely programming but it’s an endorsement of the important work the Middlesex County NAACP has been doing for nearly 75 years to make Middletown and our surrounding communities an even better place for everyone to live, work and raise our families.”

 Faith Jackson, president of the Middlesex County Branch of the NAACP, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had impaired the branch’s major fundraising activities and required changes on many fronts. The branch continued to adjust to the new way of doing things while planning new programming and expanding upon existing programs in the community, but Jackson said they were concerned about their ability to fund the projects to completion. “I literally became emotional when the bank contacted me and told me that we would be receiving a $10,000 grant,” she said.  “It goes to show, that you never know who is paying attention to the work you are doing. What a wonderful surprise!”

Jackson went on to say that Middlesex County NAACP Branch has been a longtime community partner with Liberty Bank.  “We are appreciative of their ongoing support at this level in helping us to continue to do important work in facilitating effectual change in the community and improving the quality of life for our youth and healthcare issues.”

Jackson noted that the Young Readers Pilot Program for African American and Latino Boys was created by a simple inquiry from Altrusa International of Central CT, Inc.  “They asked us to identify an area that they could assist the branch with. Since literacy is a major focus for Altrusa, we asked them if they would assist us with our new reading program.”

Regarding the Middlesex County NAACP’s ongoing work with Middlesex Health, Jackson said, “Our partnership with Middlesex Health has helped us do important work in the area of addressing healthcare issues impacting African Americans and Latinos. Our collaborative work continues to improve the understanding and quality of healthcare for people of color in Middlesex County.”

 Young Readers Pilot Program for African American and Latino Boys

The Young Readers Pilot Reading Program is a new initiative for 10-15 African American and Latino middle school boys from low-income households. The aim of the program is to create a fun educational experience by working collaboratively with the Middletown Public School System.  Besides building academic performance in reading, vocabulary, writing, and communications skills, the program is aimed at building self-confidence so that students will be able adjust to the transition to the new middle school. If the program is successful, NAACP hopes to expand the program through all grades at the new middle school.

Protecting our Health from the Impacts of Race, Racism, and COVID-19

Utilizing the NAACP Health Equity Focus Group Report as a guiding document, this project will involve 250-300 participants and consists of two components: a quarterly adult health program and a monthly children’s program that couples health education with art therapy.  For phase one of the adult program, the target audience is People of Color from Middletown and Cromwell.  Phase two will target other communities in Middlesex County, and will come after NAACP conducts focus groups that include Latino populations. The ultimate goal of this project is to identify ongoing health disparities and improve the health status of People of Color.

The Art Therapy and Education Program for children is designed to prevent health problems over one’s lifetime by providing education on key health issues in the 2019 study, using art as medium for creative learning and stress reduction. This program will provide sessions that couple health education with a coordinating art project, facilitated by an artist who is also a member of the NAACP Health Committee. The benefits of art in education are well documented and include presenting topics in a way that may be more easily understood, reaching individuals who might not otherwise be engaged in educational lessons, boosting critical thinking, imparting a growth mindset, improving self-confidence, providing opportunity for self-expression and communication, and many more.