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Grants Fund Work-Based Learning Program in Waterbury
Posted 08/12/2021 11:37AM

Grants Help CJR Provide Summer Work and Education Program For Students In Waterbury

Thanks to the support of the American Savings Foundation, The Litchfield Aid of CJR and the Frederick W. Marzahl Memorial Fund, the Connecticut Junior Republic (CJR) is providing a six-week Work-Based Learning Summer Program for 40 at-risk boys and girls from Waterbury. Generous grants of $24,000 from the American Savings Foundation, $10,000 from the Frederick W. Marzahl Memorial Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and $10,000 from The Litchfield Aid of CJR, have funded this unique summer program, which includes vocational training in culinary arts, video and media production, horticulture and landscaping, and entrepreneurial skills development. All students are also participating in a financial literacy curriculum and collaborating on projects while developing specific skill sets relevant to the four job areas. Program participants have “worked” Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at CJR’s Waterbury Campus, located at 80 Prospect Street, since July 6, and the program will continue through August 6. A number of COVID-19 precautions have been incorporated into the program to ensure the safety of participating young people and staff members.

The students’ educational experience began the week of June 21, with a standardized application and interview process for various positions. Boys and girls participated in resume development, as well as interviewing and employment-readiness training. Each of the four study areas associated with the “work” component of the program are using an entrepreneurship model to develop specific “products” associated with culinary arts, media production, and horticulture and landscaping. A fourth entrepreneurial skills development class is working with the other program components to market their products and develop promotional materials. All students are being paid stipends for their participation in the program.

Boys and girls in the culinary class are catering lunches for CJR programs and other non-profit organizations in the Waterbury area. This project component is specifically funded by the grant from the Frederick W. Marzahl Memorial Fund.

The horticulture and landscaping class is tending a newly created garden area on the grounds of CJR’s Waterbury campus that includes herbs and vegetables and students are also working on community beautification projects.

Students in the video and media production class are documenting the activities of the other classes through photography and video, as well as working on their own class projects.

“This work-based learning summer experience for at-risk adolescents in Waterbury has never been as important or relevant as it is this summer,” stated CJR President & CEO Daniel Rezende. “Post-pandemic, there is a high level of need for educational enrichment, academic and vocational learning opportunities and summer youth employment,” he noted. “To make this program possible, our staff has been extremely diligent and creative about adapting and implementing the curriculum to ensure the safety of all involved,” he continued. “Students across Connecticut – especially those who are at risk – are still struggling with the educational challenges associated with COVID-19 and can benefit from a highly-structured, strength-based summer program that helps them add to their educational, work and social skills,” he said.

“Everyone can remember the importance of that first summer job.  It’s a step toward adulthood and independence, and an opportunity to gain real-world work experience,” said Maria Falvo, President & CEO of the American Savings Foundation.  “We believe it is important to continue to invest in programs such Summer Youth Employment at CJR, knowing that they are taking every precaution to ensure a fun, educational, and safe experience for youth this summer.”

The American Savings Foundation is an independent charitable foundation dedicated to strengthening the community by supporting education, human services, and the arts, with special emphasis on the needs of children, youth and families, through grants to community organizations and college scholarships. Since its inception in 1995, the Foundation has contributed nearly $64 million in total grants and scholarships.

The Litchfield Aid of CJR is a voluntary, charitable organization comprised of approximately 100 members that was founded in 1911, for sole purpose of improving the programs, services, and facilities of the Connecticut Junior Republic.

The Frederick W. Marzahl Memorial Fund was established in 1974 to support and promote quality education, human services and health care programming for underserved populations in the Woodbury area.

Founded in 1904, the Connecticut Junior Republic (CJR) provides care, treatment, education and family support for vulnerable at-risk, special needs and troubled young people so they may become productive and fulfilled members of their homes, schools and communities.  Today, the organization’s combined programs serve approximately 1,500 boys and girls annually at 11 program sites throughout Connecticut and in a growing number of public schools.

A private charitable organization, the Connecticut Junior Republic is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).  CJR is supported by gifts from individuals, businesses, foundations and organizations, and through service contracts funded by the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division (JBCSSD), the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS), by Connecticut’s public schools, and through other income earned for services provided.  

For further information, please contact Hedy Barton, Director of Development and Public Relations (860) 567-9423, extension 252; or by email:

  • Connecticut Junior Republic
  • 550 Goshen Road, P.O. Box 161
  • Litchfield, CT 06759
  • (860) 567-9423

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