New job and literacy center a joint endeavor

A new public-private collaboration in Science Park may help ease the blow of the city’s expected layoffs.

A 2,000-square-foot space at 4 Science Park in the Newhallville neighborhood will host a new job and literacy center targeted at area residents, Science Park Development Corporation Chairman and CEO David Silverstone said. The building will house three local nonprofit organizations, as well as a job development office staffed by the City of New Haven. The University is also providing some funding for the job and literacy center, which has been met with unanimously positive reviews from interviewed residents of the area.

Literacy Volunteers, a group that provides literacy tutoring for adults, will be relocating the entirety of its headquarters, currently on Long Wharf Drive, to the new Science Park location. The New Haven Reads Book Bank, which offers literacy tutoring for children, will also use the new space as a satellite location. Concepts for Adaptive Learning, which according to its Web site specializes in “integrating technology in education,” will offer computer-assisted educational programs and computer skills training.

“We [the three non-profits] have been talking for a long time about joining forces,” Literacy Volunteers Executive Director Doss Zenema said, “and that decision was really pushed by the economy. Three free-standing organizations could do a lot more for a lot less if we join forces.”

Deputy Economic Development Administrator Christine Bonnano did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but according to representatives from the literacy organizations, the city will be adding to the three nonprofits a job development office and an employment councilor to staff it.

Director of New Haven Reads Chris Alexander said plans for the center respond to a great need in the Newhallville neighborhood.

“Particularly, the unemployment is pretty high in the neighborhood,” she said. “We’re hoping this would be a situation where the whole family could come in — for the ‘one-stop shopping’ for your literacy needs, as well as your counseling if you’re looking for job.”

She added that by the time the three groups spoke with David Silverstone of the Science Park Development Corporation, which owns the building, he had already been discussing the job aspect with the city.

Karyn Gilvarg, executive director of New Haven’s City Plan Department, explained that given recent investments in long-dormant properties, the literacy center “seemed timely.”

The real estate space is in effect being donated by the SPDC, but Silverstone said the University will also play a major role in the project. Yale and Winstanley Enterprises, LLC, the developer of nearby properties, are making monetary contributions to the operation of this office, Silverstone said.

Carter Winstanley, of Winstanley Enterprises, LLC, declined to comment.

“That’s a plus; that’s a good thing,” resident David Cameron, who is also a professor of political science at Yale, said about the center. “The more that whole development can be connected with the community, the better.”

Said Zenema proudly, “We have a large agenda,” adding, “We could have a really dynamite program.”

If all goes as planned, Zenema said, the center is set to open in March.

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