Published May 30, 2019
By Erica Moser

New London — The New London Partnership for Student Success held the first of many community conversations Thursday afternoon, bringing together more than 30 city employees, Board of Education members, local nonprofit leaders, parents and donors.

The focus areas for the partnership are kindergarten readiness, afterschool enrichment, mentoring programs, health and wellness, and college and career readiness.

The event also served as an introduction of partnership coordinator Randi McCray, who started in April; the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut raised funds to support her position. Her role, she said, is to bring groups together for the "cradle to career" partnership, meaning the focus is on ages 0-24. She previously was a consultant for the New Haven Early Childhood Education Council.

Community Foundation CEO Maryam Elahi explained that the partnership grew out of a meeting in November 2016, which involved the founder of the national cradle to career organization Strive Together. The project was paused after the district got a new superintendent.

The meeting Thursday involved groups spending 15 minutes assembling a marshmallow-topped structure using spaghetti, string and tape, which McCray said was meant to emphasize that "you have to try a few things here and there, and bring it in in phases."

The four groups then each brainstormed what an equitable New London means. A few desires that came up separately in two groups were after-school and summer programs for children over 10, equal access to natural resources such as the waterfront, and the fostering of pride and positivity in New London, especially given recent negative news out of the schools.

Saying that not everyone needs the same things, McCray emphasized the "both/and" approach, noting that "My truth is my truth, and your truth is your truth, and it might not be the same truth."

She said this was the first of many meetings, and that stakeholders will reconvene to talk about solutions. Anyone who wants to be informed of future meeting dates can contact the Community Foundation at (860) 442-3572.