MERIDEN — The Meriden Housing Authority and Meriden Public Schools have partnered to provide after-school tutorials at a housing authority community center.
The Chamberlain Heights community center will be the first place students will receive after-school help with homework, while a community center and rehabilitation project planned for Yale Acres could be another location. The $54 million price tag also includes rehabbing 162 moderate-income housing units.
”It’s a good collaboration,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Miguel Cardona. “It’s something we’ve been throwing around — a drop-in center for additional help and informal mentoring.”
The project was started by Board of Education members Marisol Estrada and Donald Green, and Meriden Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Cappelletti. It has received some private funding for teachers.
Jay Diaz, of Express Employment Professionals, has pledged $1,000 per month through July 2019. Diaz, who has been on East Main Street for more than five years, said his company works closely with the community.
“It felt like a great opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.
The Chamberlain Heights center will be open to students at Benjamin Franklin school. Estrada is looking for certified teachers willing to work after school, and possibly advanced placement high school students to volunteer for community service hours. The center will be open through the summer.
“The idea is to bring the school into the area and build relationships with parents,” Estrada said. “I want to build the core curriculum in the first three months, and then add enrichment activities.”
Other potential locations include the Meriden Public Library and another MHA property at 24 Colony St.
Chamberlain Heights had a similiar program prior to its renovation in 2013, but the program funding ended, Cappelletti said.
The Yale Acres renovation and community center project is awaiting funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority.
Cappelletti expects construction to begin in the summer. The Yale Acres Community Center will include a greenhouse, small pool, gymnasium, classrooms, greenhouse and community kitchen.
“The idea is to teach children and families how to grow and cook their own food,” Cappelletti said.
The 25,000 square foot community center will also serve as a community warming area during natural disasters, and have some power generation capabilities.