We at New Haven Reads have always felt that connecting with our community is crucial to our mission. For us to succeed as an organization, other organizations must also succeed, because only through working together can we truly create long-lasting positive change for the entire New Haven community. To that end, we partner with several schools and organizations every year to further our mission. For several years now, we have worked closely with the University of New Haven.
“Through the Community Work Study Program, we have 5 to 8 interns join our team every semester, with most of them staying for a full year or even longer,” explained Natosha Wengreen, the Outreach Director at New Haven Reads.
However, the CWS Program only accounts for a portion of the interns from the University of New Haven. University of New Haven Professor Allison Geballe has long been responsible for the other portion. She teaches PSYC 4480, “Psychology Internship,” a course for which students are matched with internships at local organizations that fit their goals and interests.
It would be hard to overstate the impact of this course on New Haven Reads over the years. In fact, two current staff members — Eimanuelle (Emma) Pendon and Aimee Curtis-Travaglini, the Assistant Site Director at Dixwell and Site Director at Bristol Street, respectively — originally came to New Haven Reads as interns from Professor Geballe’s course.
Geballe discussed the structure of the program, saying, “I partner with community, clinical, or research-based organizations for the course. After hearing about what they are looking for in their interns and what roles might be possible, I interview my students and get a sense of what sites might be the best match for them. I then encourage them to apply to the best fit, and the student goes on to interview with that organization.”
She explained that in order to recommend that a student seek an internship at New Haven Reads, a few criteria have to be met: they must have an interest in working with younger students, they should ideally have some prior experience working with children, other nonprofits, or schools, and they should be following a path that relates, even if indirectly, to the organization’s work and mission.
Although she partners with many organizations for the course, Geballe has a special connection to New Haven Reads. As a long-time supporter of New Haven Reads, she lauded the work and the mission of the organization. “I really can’t say enough about the important work that New Haven Reads does,” Geballe said. “Having worked with kids for 20 years, I know that it can be very challenging for them in school, so having the support system and individual attention that New Haven Reads provides outside of school can really help promote their development and learning.”
But New Haven Reads, Geballe feels, not only provides this important individual attention for students, but does so in a truly effective way. “I think New Haven Reads does it in a way that is appealing and fun for kids, and they look forward to that one-on-one interaction with their tutors,” she explained. “Yet it also functions as a support system for families, working with them to meet their needs. The impact that New Haven Reads has had on the youth in the community is amazing.”
When we have the opportunity to partner with organizations and schools in New Haven, we are always extremely excited to see what we can do together. The UNH-NHR partnership shows just how impactful these collaborations can be. NHR benefits from the phenomenal work of UNH interns every semester, and the interns get an inside look at what a future in the nonprofit or education spheres could look like.