Archive | March, 2013

CT Philanthropy President to Step Down

HARTFORD — Nancy Roberts, president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy since 1991, has announced that she will step down by the end of March.

The national search for Robert’s successor, will be conducted by a search committee of the Board, led by former Council Board Chair Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. The new president of the Council will be introduced at the Connecticut Philanthropy Summit on May 9, 2013.

During her tenure, Roberts has led the Council to a leadership role in the State and within the Regional Association of Grantmakers movement nationwide.  Her skill in connecting funders across the state and in facilitating partnerships and collaboration has been a key component in the growth of the organization.

The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy was founded in 1969 to provide a setting where funders could come together to address common problems and interests.   “Under Nancy’s leadership, the Council’s membership has more than doubled to include 109 private family and independent foundations, community foundations, donor advised funds, and corporate giving programs and foundations, representing the vast majority of institutional giving in our area,” supporters said.

In addition to her role as President of the Council, Roberts serves on the Governor’s Cabinet on Nonprofit Health and Human Services and the Hartford Seminary board.  She served on the Task Force for the Early Learning Race to the Top Proposal, is a past Chair of the Board of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, served as chair of the Forum’s Accountability Initiative, and served on the international Coordinating Committee for the World Wide Initiative for Grantmaker Support (WINGS).

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Hartford Plans to Open Two Magnet Schools

HARTFORD —  The Hartford Board of Education on Tuesday approved proposals to open two new Sheff Magnet schools and expand the Betances STEM Magnet School at a larger space downtown.

Tuesday’s votes immediately activate the process for developing an operations plan for all three schools, school officials said.

Under the first measure, the board accepted a grant of $600,000 from the state Department of Education to find a new location for the Betances STEM Magnet School to accommodate an expanded student body of 4th-through-8th graders by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

The second item approved by the board would convert the current Montessori program at Moylan Elementary into a magnet school housing 84 Hartford students and 63 suburban students. Moreover, it creates a new Hartford Pre-K Magnet School for 180 children of ages 3 and 4 also by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Both proposals were made possible under the terms of the new one-year negotiated agreement between the State Department of Education and the plaintiffs to the Sheff vs. O’Neil lawsuit.

With the addition of the Montessori program at Moylan and the Hartford Pre-K Magnet School, Hartford Public Schools will now be home to 17 magnet schools, seven of which specialize in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. The district’s portfolio also includes a number of themed schools such as, the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy, the Hartford Insurance and Finance Academy (High School, Inc.), the Hartford Nursing Academy, the Hartford Law & Government Academy, the Hartford Journalism & Media Academy and the Hartford Academy of Culinary Arts.

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Are We Latinos Too Thin-Skinned?

Al Dí, Editorial

A long batch of tweets excoriating ESPN for broadcasting the World Baseball Classic in Spanish (though the preferred term was actually “Mexican”) and Justin Timberlake’s Hugo Chavez skit on Saturday Night Live prompted a newsroom discussion about whether we — Latinos — are too sensitive about the way we are depicted, or referred to, by non-Latino Americans.

It is not a new conversation. We’ve discussed it before in pop culture terms when we’ve discussed Sofia Vergara’s role in the television show “Modern Family,” Will Ferrell’s turn as a telenovela star in the comedic “Casa de mi Padre” or Jack Black’s interpretation of a luchador in “Nacho Libre.”

We’ve discussed it as well in terms of more serious stories — the immigration discourse, Arizona’s SB 1070 and copycat bills that rely on profiling, and, of course, the pieces we’ve been running about ex Lt. Jonathan Josey being found not guilty of the assault of Aida Guzman by a judge with a lot of disparaging things to say about Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican neighborhood and celebration during which the videotaped incident took place.

Here is the gist of the contrasting arguments you might have heard if you were a fly on the wall of Al Día’s newsroom day before yesterday (when the aforementioned tweets came to light):

Older journalist: If we see but don’t call out derogatory language, stereotyped portrayals or victimization predicated on ethnicity, we fail, both as human beings and as newspaper people.

Younger journalist: We all know this type of behavior (speech, portrayal, etc.) exists, and certainly not only toward us. Why must we continually focus on it? It’s too much, let’s just get on with other things.

The same sort of discussion has taken place online, on Latino-centered social media venues, with much the same generational divide: the older journalists feeling compelled to focus on stories about challenges and injustices, the younger wanting to focus on attainments and advancements.

Is this the Latino generational divide?

We thought so.

But in digging around for studies about Latino studies about discrimination (and there are a lot of them out there) we came upon this: a 2012 secondary analysis of the 2007 National Survey of Latinos by an associate professor at Rutgers found that a whopping 63 percent of Latinos felt that they were discriminated against. One of that report’s findings was that 30-39 year old Latinos perceived the discrimination most acutely.

Then, we happened upon a 2010 NCLR study about Latino youths 15-17. It revealed that almost 83 percent of them reported experiencing discrimination, particularly with regard to stereotypes.


So the real difference, then, is how we, as individuals and as journalists, respond to perceived instances of discrimination.

We’d like to ask you, our reader, to weigh in. We’ve put a poll on our website with the same title of this editorial, and a simple yes or no option. Or, leave us your response and why you think what you do in the comment section of the editorial (it appears in English online as well). If you think you need even more room to respond, please consider sending us a longer response via e-mail.

Let’s keep this conversation going.

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Hartford Extends Filing Deadline for Renter’s Rebate

HARTFORD — The deadline to apply for Hartford’s Renter’s Tax Relief Program for elderly and disabled residents has been extended to Oct. 1.

The Department of Health and Human Services will begin accepting applications on April 1, for the relief program, which is a state initiative managed through the Office of Policy and Management.

The program provides reimbursement for Connecticut renters, who are elderly or totally disabled, and whose income does not exceed certain limits.

In order to qualify applicants must:

  • Have lived in Connecticut for at least 1 full year
  • Be 65 years or older, or 18 years or older and receiving Social Security Disability
  • Have an income in 2012 that does not exceed $33,500 if single or $40,900 if married
  • Reside in Hartford in any of the following; apartment, boarding house, hotel/motel room, nursing home or assisted living center

HHS staff will process applications at selected senior housing properties, Pope Park and Parker Memorial recreation centers and other community sites throughout the City of Hartford. The schedule will be posted on Hartford Public Access Television, Channel 96.

Also, bhartfordrent-rebateeginning, July 8, applications will be processed by appointment only. Eligible applicants must call 860-757-4730 during normal business hours to schedule an appointment. No calls to make appointments will be accepted before June 17.

For more information about the Renters Rebate program including scheduled visits and eligibility requirements, call the HHS Department, 860-757-4730 or go to

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Letter: Andrea Comer for State Board of Ed? No Way

Dear Editor

I read that Gov. Dan Malloy appointed Andrea Comer to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly will vote on it soon. I vehemently oppose this move by the governor. Ms. Comer, I’m sure, is an intelligent and civic- minded woman. But as a parent of three children in the Hartford School system, I feel strongly about the governor’s latest appointment.There is no way I feel Ms. Comer should be on the state board that actually voted to giver her school money and might probably do so again.

letterstohartfordguardianI didn’t say anything when they put her in charge of Jumoke Academy at Milner School—even though she has no experience educating students. I saw that as a political appointment for the work she does for politicians. And I figured the move served her political ambition.

Besides, I read somewhere that the same board that she was appointed to approved funding for the school that she runs. Please. What kind of message are you sending those children and people in Connecticut? We might not be as visible and vocal Mr. Malloy. But you best believe we are not stupid.

There are plenty of other black people, especially educated and compassionate black females who are well qualified for the position on the State Board of Education. And they are not hard to find in Connecticut.

Do the right thing. And find individuals who are not politically connected in the same North End group with Abe Giles and whose only political agenda is the welfare of kids. Thank you.

Simone B.


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Windsor Native Adaora Akubilo Sizzles in Sports Illustrated, Life

By Ann-Marie Mesquita, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  Windsor native Adaora Akubilo works hard to maintain her career in the rarified arena of the fashion industry.

As a Sports Illustrated Model, the 20-year-old Central Connecticut State University student has a strict workout regimen and a strict diet to help maintain her statuesque physique because, she said, she’s not naturally thin.

So the Nigerian-American tries to keep up her exercise routine by running twice a week and practicing Pilates, also twice week.

“I do have to work out hard to maintain my body,” Akubilo said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I’m in a business that hires you based on how you look.”

The import of Akubilo’s looks resonates on many levels. Her smooth and seemingly poreless, ebony, skin on the pages of Sports Illustrated and other magazines is an anomaly. Some observers say the modeling business lost its diversity after fashionista Bethann Hardison closed her modeling agency in 1996. Today, industry observers criticize the runways, the magazines, the modeling agencies and advertising for lack of  diversity. Hardison said that models of color mostly “disappeared for a whole decade.”

And that’s why this is, well, a big deal—even after models such as Roshumba Williams in 1992 and Carla Campbell in 2006, both of whom are dark-skinned black women.  Akulbio knows she’s a role model for many African-Americans girls whom, she said, can learn to embrace their own beauty.

Perhaps that is what a John Casablanca scout sensed about Akulbio when she spotted her at Windsor High School several years ago. Hartford Director of John Casablancas Tina Kiniry said that it wasn’t just about Akubilo’s look.

“It’s her smile and personality. It’s a certain aura about her that really makes her stand out in a crowd,”  Kiniry said.  “And she’s pleasant to be around.”

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

The 5’11” beauty was also a part of a  SI‘s swimsuit model search contest. She took a few minutes to do a Q and A with The Hartford Guardian. See below.
HG: Tell us what its like being a Sports Illustrated model?

AA: Being an SI model has given me public recognition. People know me by name because SI promotes the model. Being an SI model also gives me access to exclusive events and gifts, and the privilege of traveling to the most remote and exotic world destinations during shoots.

HG: Talk about your first gig as a model–was it local?

AA: My first modeling gig was a runway show that I booked through my CT agency, John Casablancas. I remember being excited and wanting more looks so that I could get out on the runway and strut some more!

HG: Which schools did she attend?

AA: I attended Windsor High School and Central Connecticut State University, where I received a B.A. in English. I was studying to become an English teacher.

HG: Did she pursue her career from the Greater Hartford area? Or did she move to New York?

AA: I started my modeling career in CT at John Casablancas. I moved to NYC after college to pursue it full-time.

HG: What does she eat?

AA: I eat whatever I am in the mood for. Nigerian food, salads, pizza, pancakes, smoothies…I try to chose healthy options more often and avoid stuffing myself with the junk ones.

HG: What kind of struggles, or set backs have you had so far?

AA: The struggles I’ve had is handling rejection. Several agencies rejected me (and some of the same ones more than once) when I was trying to find representation in the city. Being away from my family when I need to travel over an extended period of time is heartbreaking.

HG: What is your goal after SI?

AA: My goal after SI is to continue modeling and to launch a business of my own eventually.

HG: What advice do you have for girls who want to be successful models?

AA: My advise to girls who want to start modeling is to really have a strong passion for it. Work really hard and put in the time and commitment that is required. I encourage girls to love themselves, to be confident, and to not take it personal when they experience rejection. Rejection is necessary for growth and besides if they get all the jobs they will be burnt out and their career will be over quickly!

HG: Where should we look for her next: movies, videos, TV shows?

AA:  To know where to see me next follow me on twitter @adaoraakubilo and Facebook.

HG: Tell us more about growing up in a Nigerian household?

AA: Growing up in a Nigerian household has exposed me to a rich culture full of inspirational traditions. I have a strong sense of self-identity by knowing my heritage, values, and morals. I was taught to value education, to have a strong Christian faith, and to work hard.

HG: Any parting thoughts to our readers?

AA: Modeling is not who I am it’s just what I do.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Merrill, Others, To Raise Hunger Awareness

HARTFORD — About 25 percent of children in America go hungry every day.

Many are in Connecticut. That’s why on March 21 Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and others will attend the fourth annual Interfaith Hunger Passover Seder in an effort to raise hunger awareness. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Old  Judiciary Room of the Connecticut State Capitol–on the third floor.

The Seder – a festive meal for the Jewish holiday of Passover – is being sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Connecticut and End Hunger CT!  The Seder will be led by Rabbi David Small of The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford and Reverend Tim Oslovich of Trinity Lutheran Church in Vernon and will feature music by the Glastonbury Ukulele Band.

Following the Seder, a portion of the documentary, A Place at the Table, will be shown highlighting the impact of 50 million Americans (one in every four children) who go hungry everyday. After viewing the film clip, Seder participants will send letters to their representatives urging support of specific hunger related legislation.

“I am honored to join in this Passover celebration of freedom from slavery,” Merrill said.  “As much as we are thankful for the blessings of freedom and the bounty many of us share as Americans, we must not forget that even in Connecticut there are many families and children who are still oppressed by poverty, malnourished, and go to bed with an empty stomach every night.

“Passover is the holiday when it is said to all who are hungry, let them come and eat.  In the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation on earth, we must do whatever we can to eradicate hunger.  I am proud to join people of multiple faiths for this holiday to do our part towards making sure every child in America has enough good, healthy food to eat.”

The 4th Annual Interfaith Hunger Seder is sponsored by: the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut, the Jewish Community Relations Councils of the Jewish Federations of Greater Hartford and New Haven, Foodshare, Church of St. Timothy in West Hartford, Byadeynu, The Emanuel Synagogue Social Action Committee, Charter Oak Cultural Center, and End Hunger Connecticut! Seder funding is provided by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The event is free and open to the public, though seating is limited.  RSVP required for attendance to: or 860-727-5770.


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State to Increase Community College Tuition

HARTFORD — Connecticut students will soon have to dig deeper into thier pockets to get an education at a community college, which was once tuition-free during the 1950s and 1960s.

That’s because the Finance Committee of the Board of Regents for Higher Education on Thursday approved an increase in tuition and fees for the system’s nearly 100,000 students.

The Finance Committee, which governs four state universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College, had requested additional financial, enrollment and other information, including risk factors that the system may face over the next year, during its Feb. 19 meeting prior to voting on a tuition and fee package for the fiscal year 2014 (state universities and community colleges) and annual year  2014 (Charter Oak State College).

The tuition and fee package now awaits final approval by the full Board of Regents, which will meet on March 21.

The tuition and fee increases for 2014 at the community colleges and state universities include:

In-State Commuter In-State Residential Out-of-State Residential
Connecticut State Universities (Undergraduate) 5.1% or $434(total of $8,990/AY) 4.1% or $778(total of $19,897/AY) 4.1% or $1,251(total of $31,402/AY)
Connecticut Community Colleges 5.25% or $188 (full-time)including fees(total of $3,786/AY) N/A N/A
5.25% or $8 per Extension credit plus fees (part-time)

In-state tuition at Charter Oak State College for AY 2014 increased by $13 per credit, to $258/credit. The in-state College Fee increased $9 per semester to $180 per semester.

“We are mindful that any increase in tuition and fees – regardless of the amount – is difficult for our students to absorb in these fiscal times,” said Finance Committee Chairman Gary Holloway. “When we originally began discussing the environment in which we would consider a tuition and fee increase, I was concerned we would be forced to consider a double-digit increase. Thankfully, that is not the situation in which we find ourselves. However, we must continue to be innovative in the way in which we provide services to our students, and consider any and all opportunities for cost savings going forward.”

State officials said the Connecticut State Universities ranked in the bottom third among the six New England states, New York and New Jersey in tuition and fees through for 2013 and is among the lowest within New England states.

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Sequestration Cuts to Soon Impact State Programs, Energy Assistance

By Adam Stuhlman, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — On March 1 the so-called sequestration took effect and many state agencies will soon feel the effects of these drastic budget measures imposed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress because of a partisan tug-of-war over “balancing the budget.” The impact of the Sequestration, state officials said, could leave some people literally out in the cold.

The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, an agency aligned with the Department of Social Services, will receive about $67 million for the CT Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Plan. This is a reduction from its 2012 funding level of $79.5 million.

This year’s funding level is even more drastically lower than its 2010 funding level of $107.8 million, according to CT Facts-Campaign for Home Energy Assistance. The resulting cuts could be tough for low-income customers, who benefit the most from these programs, state officials told The Hartford Guardian. 

However, the Connecticut General Assembly has a different budget for 2013, with the cuts coming at 5.3 percent or about $4.2million, reducing the state’s allotment to slightly more than $75 million.

According to Nancy Pappas, spokeswoman for Community Renewal Team, home energy funds in Connecticut will be cut by $180 million during the sequester, bringing the average per family service down from $405 a month in 2012 to $375 a month in 2013 under LIHEAP. However, the impact won’t be felt right away, Pappas said.

“The average energy assistance per family will go down from $405 a month to $375 a month in 2013, but the financial hit won’t come until next September,” Pappas said.There’s still time to apply for energy assistance in 2013.

According to Pat Wrice, Executive Director of Operation Fuel-part of the privately owned National Fuel Funds Network, DSS received around $79 million in 2013, with another $8 million rolled over from last year-almost $88 million all together.

“As a result of the sequester, the state received 85 percent of its original funding request,” said Wrice, “with about $79.5 million for LIHEAP. With the 10 percent rolled over from last year, we will have $88 million for this year.”

Wrice believes that these cuts will have the most impact on people who are within 150-200 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a family of four is about $33,000.

According to Rice, in 2012 people who lived above 150 percent of the poverty level received $400 a month for oil and $300 a month for gas. Rice said that $400 a month of oil is enough for 100 gallons, which is less than one tank.

Alan Calandro, Director of the Office of Fiscal Analysis for the CT General Assembly, said that state government may see a total reduction of $52 million, with about $6.5 million coming from the March 1 sequester.

However, Energy will be one of the least hit programs with a loss of $89 million.

 According to the General Assembly, Education, Income Security, and Social Services are going to get hit the most in this sequester.

The sequestration came about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and was originally scheduled to begin in January and result in approximately $984 billion in cuts between 2013 and 2021, with approximately $109 billion anticipated in 2013. However, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 delayed the Sequester until March 1 and reduced anticipated cuts by $24 million.

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Hartford Artists Showcase Work in Vernon

VERNON— Hartford-based artists Balam and Jade Soto will perform at an opening reception for the Paper to Pixel exhibit in Vernon on April 7.

The event is a part of an   an exhibit using a range of media from one of the oldest–paper, to one of the newest–computer technology, inviting the audience to interact with installations, and appreciate the mathematical relationship between origami and cutting edge technology. It is produced by produced by the Vernon Community Arts Center.

The Opening Reception is Sunday April 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will feature two performances by award winning artist Balam Soto with Jade Soto performing “The Body Sound Suit.” which captures gestures and body movements and translates them into data triggering audio and graphic displays.

This gathering of  local, regional and international artists will celebrate the exhibit curated by Lori Robeau, Melissa Ralston-Jones, and Ben Parker.

Paper to Pixel, organizers said, expands the viewer’s appreciation of what art is and can be.

Performances are scheduled for 1:30pm and 3:30 pm. The VCAC also welcomes musical trio and Flautist Melanie Chirignan, along with Scott Hill and Carlos Boltes. Performance is from 2-3pm. Artists displaying work in the galleries are Christiane Bettens, Erik and Martin Demaine -origami artists featured in documentary “Between the Folds”, Kevin C. Ferreira, Eric Gjerde, Chris Huestis, Beth Johnson, Carlos Natan, Benjamin Parker, Balam Soto, Alex Soukas, Russell Sutherland and Brian k. Webb.

The exhibit will be on display at the VCAC located at 709 Hartford Turnpike  in Vernon, CT from Sunday, April 7 and run through Sunday, May 12, 2013.

This event is free and open to the public (a $5 recommended donation is suggested). For more information and gallery hours go to


The Vernon Community Arts Center is a non-profit organization committed to enriching lives and enhancing economic development by bringing the arts to the diverse communities East of the River through education, events, exhibits, and performances.



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