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Hartford Foundation Renews Grant for Partnership Work

A year has passed since the district created its  Family and Community Partnership office and Scott Ratchford said he is happy with the progress the district has made but aware that there is much more work to be done.

“Relationship building takes time,” Ratchford, the department director, said Friday after a breakfast celebrating the renewal of a grant that is funding work to strengthen and build new partnerships throughout the community with the goal of helping students. 

Sarah Sneed, the Hartford Foundation’s director of educational investments, said her organization was excited to be providing the school district with $750,000 to continue its efforts to “increase educational equity and opportunity by building partnerships in the community.” 

A year ago, the Foundation awarded the district $713,520 to begin work that Sneed labeled as crucial. “The premise is very simple,” she said. “Schools alone cannot meet students’ needs.” 

Others at Friday’s breakfast, which was held at the East Side Neighborhood Resource Center, included Mayor Jay Moran, school board Chairman Chris Pattacini and Superintendent Matt Geary. 

Ratchford said the most obvious highlights from the past year included the opening of Family Resource Centers at all elementary schools as well as two community events that demonstrated how Manchester students and families benefit when the community aligns its resources. Each event drew hundreds of people -- a barbecue at Squire Village in August and a “Family Night” held at Mahoney Rec in November for the Washington and Keeney communities.

Less obvious, Ratchford said, has been work that has included building supports and programs for families to offer them better ways to support their children’s learning. The focus of the work is around collaborations that lead to student growth.

“We are trying to better understand families, to become allies, to build trust, to provide support to one another,” he said, adding that while schools and teachers have the same goals, his department is able to focus exclusively on this work.

Geary echoed those thoughts, telling the breakfast crowd that “at the end of the day, the work is to improve student outcomes.” 

Moran highlighted diversity as one of Manchester’s many strengths, saying, “We don’t just (accept) it, we embrace it.” 

Sneed said she has been impressed by the coalition that exists in Manchester -- and that was evident at the breakfast, which drew representatives from the police department,  from PTAs, from town departments including the Youth Service Bureau, from private-sector institutions such as Highland Park Market, and more. 

“We are proud to offer this additional support to give Manchester the resources it needs to build on its successes,” Sneed said.

NOTE: In the accompanying photo (left to right) are

  • Chris Silver, director, director of leisure, families and recreation

  • Scott Ratchford, director, Family and Community Partnership office

  • Sara Sneed, Hartford Foundation’s director of educational investments

  • Superintendent Matt Geary

  • Chris Pattacini, school board chairman

  • Mayor Jay Moran

  • Capt. Chris Davis, Manchester police department

  • Sgt. Marc Hughes, Manchester police department

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