On Wednesday, May 3, the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport was awarded a $100K grant from Impact Fairfield County (IFFC) for an outdoor learning center on its St. Raphael campus. Other awardees included The Center for Empowerment and Education ($100K), and Mill River Park Collaborative, Mid-Fairfield Community Care Center, and The Shehan Center ($20K each).
Through the construction of “The Happy Hollow Outdoor Learning Center,” CAB will be able to provide a safe, nature-infused, and academically and emotionally supportive outdoor space to directly and positively impact the psychological and physical well-being of its PreK-3rd grade students — the majority of whom live at or below the poverty level, and who disproportionately were impacted by the pandemic and are still recovering. Such a space will include security fencing and be an oasis in The Hollow, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Bridgeport. Students will benefit from sensory play areas, an outdoor classroom, age-appropriate playground equipment, and a sports court for teamwork, social problem-solving and gross motor skills. Teachers will integrate Social-Emotional Learning, Art, and Science curriculums. The space will also host a summer camp.
“We are so grateful to everyone at Impact Fairfield County for helping to make this dream a reality on our St. Raphael campus, where most students spend up to 10 hours per day on campus and don’t always have the time or opportunity to play outside in a safe, engaging natural space,” said Angela Pohlen, CAB Executive Director. “The number one reason our families tell us they choose St. Raphael, aside from academics, is safety. Having ‘The Happy Hollow Outdoor Learning Center’ will be both life-giving and life-changing for our community and will allow for cross-curricular connections in science, art, and SEL. Equally important is that this project will impact our community into perpetuity.”
CAB has raised 75% of the funding needed for this initiative and will be looking to raise an additional $45K from private donations in the coming months. Anyone interested in making a contribution to this project or learning more, should contact Susan Cecere by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (203) 362-2990.
The Catholic Academy of Bridgeport provides an academically rigorous education to 900+ PreK-8th grade students in a values-oriented setting where cultural diversity is welcomed and celebrated. Students are nurtured, encouraged and challenged in preparation for a successful life of leadership and service. 40% of students are non-Catholic, 92% identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and 93% of students qualify for need-based financial aid. Notable is that 100% graduate from high school and 99% going on to college, which are far superior statistics than what are achieved in other Bridgeport schools.