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Borrero collaborating on federal grant for alternative education (Released: 11/20/95)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- The Institute for Violence Reduction at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work is collaborating on a U.S. Department of Education grant to provide alternative education to Hartford youths expelled from school.

The institute will work with the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) on the two-year project, which began in October. Two Hartford Neighborhood Learning Centers were established in the North End and in the South End of Hartford -- areas that have public housing projects and high rates of unemployment and crime. The centers will have community coaches, who can relate to the students because they live in the same environment and have had similar life experiences, said I. Michael Borrero, a School of Social Work professor and director of the institute.

''This method provides greater insurance that these expelled students will stay in school and deal with their violent behavior,'' he said.

Borrero has worked to quell violence among Hartford's youth gangs, helping the 20 Love and Los Solidos work out a peaceful resolution to their conflict last year.

The State Department of Education is providing the bulk of the financing, $357,000 this year and $386,000 next year.

The centers will be supervised by CREC, a regional education service center whose governing council is comprised of representatives from the boards of education in Hartford and 33 surrounding local school districts.

The institute will coordinate the collaboration between CREC and an array of community service agencies, including the Connecticut Prison Association, the Hartford Police Department, the Capitol Region Conference of Churches, the Hartford Public Housing Authority and the University of Hartford.

Borrero will also help to recruit and hire the community coaches and certified teachers, who must complete a six-week course in violence reduction and crisis management. Both UConn and the University of Hartford will provide graduate interns, who will work to assess the students' needs and help them receive support services.

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