Each Tuesday for the past 25 years, sixth grade Hartford Public School Students who participate in Hartford’s ConnectiKids come to Aetna Inc. headquarters for about one and one half-hours to be tutored by Aetna employees. ConnectiKids addresses one of the most critical components that face many Hartford children—not enough caring and concerned adults in their lives.
The program’s mission is to work with school, family and community in motivating the students to develop a positive attitude towards education and their personal worth, by helping them to turn away from drugs and crime and towards a more hopeful and productive future.
ConnectiKids, established in 1978, has five components that make it successful. First, the program brings together neighborhood people, facilities and resources for the benefit of the children, ConnectiKids is a leader in bringing together Hartford businesses, state agencies, churches, nonprofit organizations and residents for the benefit of city children. Second, the program works in partnership with the public schools and the parents. Program representatives maintain daily communication with parents and teachers regarding each child’s academic, social and developmental progress. Third, the commitment of the volunteers is critical to success. More than 500 trained individuals make up a diverse volunteer force, including 30 from Aetna. Fourth, the volunteers serving as caring adults in the lives of children is invaluable.
Lastly, the program offers safety and security. City streets, parks and other outdoor areas have become dangerous places for children, often forcing them indoors with little activity other than television viewing. This program offers a safe, clean, supervised and well-equipped environment in which to spend after-school time.
The program relies on the tutors, to show kids why education is important and that there are many people out there who care and are willing to listen to and support them. Weekly lesson plans, provided in conjunction with the curriculum of the local schools, are easy to use and execute. Topics range from reading to math, with an emphasis on problem solving. These lessons are created in conjunction with current objectives and direction set by the leaders of Hartford’s school system. Recent initiatives have focused on improving reading skills, with the philosophy that good reading skills directly impact learning in all areas of life. Through the efforts of the First Book Award, Hartford, ConnectiKids has received approximately 7,500 books for distribution to students throughout the 1999-2000 school year.
In addition to the weekly tutoring sessions held at facilities throughout Hartford, including Aetna, each student attends ConnectiKids’ After-School enrichment program operating five days a week. ConectiKids also holds a five-week, full-day Summer Program throughout Hartford and surrounding communities.
Aetna’s tutoring program is sponsored by the Aetna Volunteer Council, which provides bus transportation and snacks for the students, supplies, and celebrations such as holiday and year-end graduation parties. Many students still reference their experiences at Aetna. A leading private sector sponsor of the program, Aetna has provided approximately 25 employee volunteers to the program each year for the last 15 years.