Though she has not yet announced whether or not she will seek a third term, Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12 would leave a void in leadership in the city’s youth services committee if she chooses not to run for re-election.
Eidelson has served as the committee’s chair since January 2012 — two months after she was first elected to the Board of Alders. Under her leadership, the city has spearheaded several new long-term projects intended to benefit New Haven youth, including implementing state violence prevention grants and launching the New Haven Youth Map — a website that connects families to after-school and summer programs around the city.
On Wednesday evening, Eidelson led a youth services committee meeting focused on the Youth Map’s progress. United Way, a nonprofit working to help enrich and educate children from disadvantaged families and the architect of the Youth Map, solicited the committee’s advice on marketing strategies at the meeting.
“[Eidelson has] been instrumental in our process,” said Laoise King, vice president of education initiatives at United Way. “I can say that we would really miss her. [She and West River Alder Tyisha Walker] have been really great partners.”
King said she has worked exclusively with Eidelson and Walker throughout the development of the Youth Map, periodically presenting progress to the alders and seeking their input. United Way had conceived of the New Haven Youth Map before Eidelson was appointed chair of the youth services committee, King said, but the alders’ commitment to a “comprehensive youth agenda” — championed by Eidelson — has helped to move the project forward.
At the meeting, Eidelson and Walker suggested that King and her team develop posters and pamphlets to advertise the Youth Map website in both English and Spanish. Walker added that United Way could distribute these materials at waiting rooms in family care clinics.
Fair Haven Heights Alder and committee member Rosa Santana asked King if the Youth Map’s website included any information about free after-school programs for families that cannot afford often-expensive program fees. Although the website does connect families to free options, King said, the Youth Map could be streamlined to make such programs more easily searchable.
A second initiative of the alders’ youth agenda — launched in early 2012 — has been the procurement of funds from the state youth violence prevention grant, Eidelson said. New Haven has thus far collected $1.25 million dollars for youth services from the grant, which has been offered to Connecticut cities on an annual basis since 2011. As committee chair, Eidelson has overseen the city’s application process to the Connecticut Judicial Branch — the body which decides the grant’s recipients.
Eidelson said the city will vie to receive the grant for a fourth time this fall. The application process will begin over the summer, but the grant will not be secured until late fall, likely after the aldermanic elections in November. The city began participating in the application process after Eidelson was appointed committee chair, and she has thus presided over the city’s implementation of the grant money during the last three application cycles.
“To me, the grant has been really, really inspiring,” Eidelson said.
Since the inception of the 2012 agenda, the youth services committee also has worked on the revitalization of the Q House — a Dixwell community center that closed in 2003 due to insufficient funding.
While preliminary plans to renovate the space were unveiled last September, there has been no significant headway on the project. Eidelson and Walker said rebuilding the Q House remains a committee goal.