UConn People Empowering People: Special Needs Focus


This month, 12 dedicated parents and allies completed the UConn People Empowering People Training : Special Needs Focus, an evidence based and innovative personal and family development program with a strong community focus. It is designed to build on the unique strengths and life experiences of participants. PEP helps participants focus on their own personal strengths and enhance their communication skills, problem solving abilities, parenting and relationship skills, and achieve a greater understanding of, and become more involved with their communities. The graduating class of Fall 2018 Co-sponsors included Step Up New London, New London Youth Affairs, New London Public Schools, Community Foundation of Eastern CT, and Liberty Bank.

Rock the Vote New London


In partnership with several local organizations and community members, Step Up New London supported local efforts to encourage voting. Together we registered a total of 17 people, including first-time voters, and folks across political parties. In addition, approximately 90-95 registered voters pledged to vote in the upcoming election by filling out pledge-postcards that we mailed back to them before the election. With donations received from community members, Step Up New London was able to create a visual display, sharing why members and allies vote. This display received a lot of attention and support when displayed at several locations from October to November.

Financially Lit!


Parents looking to take control of and increase their economic wealth joined us for our Financially Lit Workshop. Facilitated by Leon Gousman, parents learned financial literacy with support and education based around “The 3 Secrets of the Rich” (thinking, education, and action). This workshop included: Understanding basic financial terminology, underlying causes of money problems, reading financial statements, understanding different types of income, assets vs. a liabilities, different asset classes, savings & budgeting methods, retirement planning, taxes, tools to developing a wealthy mindset, and tools to develop our own financial plans.

Organizing for Change


Organizing for racial equity and social justice change is not just about skills but about our ability to understand systems, connect to our humanity, and strengthen relationships. This month, 16 parents and community members completed our 12-week training where folks dove into various topics critical to community organizing and civic engagement. Each week we discussed issues such as racism, sexism, capitalism and more; while also building a stronger analysis of how our community is experiencing it. In addition, participants learned of organizing efforts and revolutionaries who have resisted against injustice and strengthened the foundation of organizing and campaign development.

I’m a much more confident organizer and ally now.
This workshop has impacted my life in truly positive way. It has helped me to grow immensely and have a better understanding of others within my community
I learned that organizations and institutions need to be built by the people they are meant to support, not the other way around. The most effective movements started with the people who were affected the most by the problems.

Immigration Story Slam: Uplifting Stories of Immigration

It is important to the community to accept immigrants and our undocumented community. We have a fear to talk and to share our stories but with your help, we can make it. We need to work on our laws to legally support immigrants and to help support changing our status. Step Up New London will have programs that serve the many different immigrants of America (not just Spanish speaking) that can participate and connect with each other. We need our community’s support through donations to purchase translation devices in order to reduce our language barriers and deepen our connections.
— Lizbeth Polo-Smith, Community Leader & Participant
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A special thank you to Emma Race and Connecticut College, Hispanic Alliance, IASC, Carlos Canales, Lizbeth Polo-Smith, Marleny Bencosme, Delia, Ella, Jennifer, Richard, and Javier. Additional thanks to our families, friends, and community members who showed unwavering support and encouragement in our movement towards social justice and liberation.

Story-telling has such a powerful impact and captures the experiences and histories a person and group of peoples embody. The connections that are made and the insight we gain through story-telling is powerful. April 20th, participants of Step Up New London's story-telling workshop series shared their stories of immigration during an Immigration Story Slam. This was a bi-lingual event and was free for everyone. Each story-teller brought different experiences however where connected through the journey of coming to America seeking a happy and prosperous life. The stories we heard highlights the struggles immigrant communities face truly brought the humanity into the conversation immigration and the need to actively support immigrant rights. 

This opportunity was brought to us by Emma Race, a Connecticut College student, who approached Step Up New London seeking support for her senior project. Emma's hope was to support social justice organizing taking place in New London while still making sure the community impacted would be leading. During the 2-month workshop series, Carlos Canales, a college professor at Three Rivers Community College who himself immigrated to the U.S, facilitated and supported the personal development of participants in crafting and sharing stories. In addition to the Immigration Story Slam, the stories were published into a book titled, Voices Without Borders. This book can be purchased through Step Up New London where all proceeds specifically go back into this workshop series.  

StepUp’s storytelling workshop series was the most tangible experience I’ve had of building community since arriving in New London four years ago. Remembering and then sharing one’s personal experiences can be painful and traumatic, and through this most vulnerable moment we came together. I feel so lucky to have been accepted in this group and able to learn and grow with everyone as an organizer. I can see the personal difference this program has made in the individual participants’ lives, and the difference it has made in us as a collective. I can’t wait to see where they all go with their stories and who else’s voice can be lifted up.
— Emma Race, Conn College Student


Step Up New London was excited to show up and offer support to the youth of New London in today's #nationalschoolwalkout. We were blown away to see the power young people hold and want to uplift the youth-led organizing that went into this!

Thanks to the leadership of some amazing, courageous 🔥🔥🔥young Black women student leaders🔥🔥🔥, the walkout was a huge SUCCESS ✌️. Hundreds of students walked out, chanted, expressed themselves, and then walked peacefully back into school on their own (there was even a playful snowball fight! youth being youth and having fun). Parents and community members were there witnessing and ensuring their safety and supporting their message all the way! It was a beautiful thing. Major major LOVE to the youth leaders who led their peers in the walkout!!! We are SO proud of you. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. You are the leaders that our community needs. 😍😍😍. Some of the dope ass young Black women leaders!!! Eliza Brown, Taylin Santiago, Christelle Attis.
— Hearing Youth Voices

Undoing Racism in New London, CT

This month, Step Up New London hosted Undoing Racism/Community Organizing Workshop led by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond in partnership with Hearing Youth Voices and FRESH New London. This is an intensive 2 ½ day training designed to educate, challenge, and empower people to undo the racist structures that hinder effective social change and implement anti-racist framework to ensure we become effective change agents who work collectively and in support of one another. We are graciously thankful for the support of  the Perrin Family Foundation, William Graustein Memorial Fund, Community Foundation of Eastern CT, All Souls Universalist Congregation, and other who supported making this training a success. Together, we were able to make this information accessible to our New London parents, youth, community organizations, and allies. Not only were we able to host this 2 1/2 day intensive training, we were able to financially support several business and community members of color and reinvest money back into New London, CT.