The East Side of Bridgeport is the poorest neighborhood in the poorest city in the state. When East Side children entered kindergarten, nearly 63 % scored below kindergarten level in school work. .
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, in collaboration with the City of Bridgeport, the Bridgeport Public Schools and many community and faith based organizations, has joined a planning team under the leadership of the East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) to build a continuum of solutions from cradle to career. These will support the academic achievement, healthy development and college and career success for all children in BESPN.
Goal and Objectives
BESPN is developing a strategy to ensure that children and youth in the most distressed neighborhood in the most distressed city in the State, -- a state with the largest achievement gap in the country -- are healthy and ready for kindergarten and that they succeed academically, socially and emotionally.
The BESPN will align with Bridgeport’s existing collaboratives, partnerships and organizations to develop a comprehensive action plan that builds a continuum of solutions. Data will be collected and analyzed by expert advisors in pursuit of the programs outcomes, goals and evidence-based solutions.
What's is the BESPN Cross-Partner Theory of Change
- Create a community-led action plan to improve academic and family/community indicators in the Bridgeport East Side Promise Neighborhood (BESPN).
- Year 1 Objectives
- Convene and manage a 12-month process to refine and build a comprehensive community plan and continuum of solutions, including school reforms at three elementary schools and one high school.
- Secure data on the 10 required academic and family/community indicators that will underpin the zone plan.
- “Grassroots organizing,” neighborhood residents must lead the change process.
- The Continuum of Solutions must be place-based and family-focused, building on the strength of an integrated series of evidenced-based programs and services that support the wide range of needs of families and children at every developmental stage, with good schools at the center.
- Planning must be data-driven and evaluation-focused, using accurate timely data with full, open dialog about its implications.
- Planning must be collaborative and inclusive of diverse voices (parents, educators, human service providers, business, and neighborhood residents) addressing root causes as well as effects, while orchestrating systemic change.
Following the successes in the Harlem Children’s Zone and other Promise Neighborhoods, the East Side of Bridgeport is seeking to replicate the effort aimed at keeping children on track through college and into the job market. According to the national action institute PolicyLink, “The initiative seeks to help selected local communities dramatically improve outcomes and opportunities for children and families in defined neighborhoods. The initiative will be diverse in its application, reflecting local needs and context.”
Progress to date
The Bridgeport East Side Promise Neighborhood project has:
-Created and distributed an asset map for the East Side Neighborhood. (Click for map)
-Implemented a program called Nurturing My Baby at Optimus Health Care to give first time moms information that will better prepare them to care for their baby.
-Coordinated an Information Fair at Marin School to provide families of young children with information about local resources and activities that help them understand and address the developmental needs of their children.