A Little About Us
We are the students and staff of ParaDYM Academy, a digital youth media program that combines transmedia production, media literacy and game design to promote youth voice, academic achievement and workforce readiness. Since 2008 more than 100 at-risk students in Central and Southern Connecticut have enrolled in ParaDYM workshops, live interactive events, after-school and summer programs.
Our students have not only created music, videos and taken photos for school assignments, they have also created media for community organizations like OIC of New Britain, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University and even the City of New Britain. Unfortunately, although our students have been able to reach new heights in their expression and have had a transformative effect on their communities, they do not have a safe space dedicated to their creation of digital media.
Your contribution will help give ParaDYM Academy students a home to call their own- a studio space designed to promote youth voice and community engagement through digital youth media. Set-up Downtown New Britain in Central Connecticut State University's Institute of Technology and Business Development and just walking distance from the new CTfastrak, a new express bus service that connects New Britain with the state capital, Hartford, CT, the new ParaDYM studio will serve as safe, secure home base for our students and provide them with continued access to the equipment and core competencies they will need to actively compete in the 21st Century.
ParaDYM Inc is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization. Fractured Atlas will receive grants for the charitable purposes of ParaDYM Inc, provide oversight to ensure that grant funds are used in accordance with grant agreements, and provide reports as required by he grantor. Contributions for the charitable purposes of ParaDYM Inc must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.
What We Need & What You Get
So we're asking for $20,000 to complete our studio project. The priority is securing the site, so in the event we fall short of our goal, your funds will be used to fund the following in order of importance:
- $9,000 will be used to pay rent and utilities.
- $4,000 for furniture
- $7,000 in computer equipment
ParaDYM Academy has worked with at-risk and marginalized students throughout Central and Southern Connecticut, but our primary focus is the city of New Britain, which is plagued by poverty and an over-taxed school system that is ill equipped to prepare many of its most promising students a chance at a better future. With 26% of students below the age of 18 living below the poverty line, a matriculation rate that hovers around %50, a juvenile detention rate at the high school twice the state average at %6 and the fifth largest percentile of the prison population, New Britain is a city where opportunity and achievement seem rare and often unattainable your its young citizens.
ParaDYM Academy has worked alongside students, many of whom had already been written off by authority figures their communities, like teachers and other program administrators, simply because they under preformed academically or they seemed to lack focus. The majority of our 8th grade students have said no one has ever spoken to them about the possibilities of attaining a degree, even though Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) is within walking distance of Downtown New Britain, and many have been ridiculed for even having such aspirations even by members of their own families.
This is why youth voice initiatives are important in general, and why ParaDYM Academy is specifically ideal for at-risk students. We not only allow them to explore the power of their voice for self-exploration and as young citizens, thanks to our continued partnership with CCSU and the New Britain Unified School District, we create a pathway that bridges the achievement gap and digital divide that so far has brought over 100 at-risk and marginalized students form the background to the forefront of 21st Century skill development and youth voice.
Risks & Challenges
The two major obstacles we face in aiding our students along their journey of self-discovery and future development are parental engagement and not having a dedicated space for them to call their own.
Although our students are excited about the opportunities that arise out of their participation in ParaDYM projects, they still need their parents support for simple things like active participation, transportation to the program and other location sites and outside food costs. We have reached out to CCSU and they are providing grad interns to help make it easier for us to connect with parents and keep in touch with them about any barriers that may be blocking them from fully engaging with their children while they are participating in ParaDYM programs. We find that students whose parents are even just more likely to stop by and see what we are doing tend to explore more options and actively assume leadership roles within the Academy experience.
Secondly, having a home base would allow us to provide a safe secure space for self-exploration, expression and production. Although we are grateful for all off the assistance we have been able to receive from the organizations which have housed us in the past, we have had to deal with security issues and work around the schedules of our partnering organizations. this has lead to damage and theft of equipment and reduced our ability to serve our students. The creation of our digital arts space/studio will cater to the needs of our students in a safe, secure environment dedicated to the creation of digital youth media as well as college prep and workforce development.
Here Are Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can't contribute, but that doesn't mean they can't help, spread the word about the great work our students do and about the studio we'd like to build for them.