United Way’s Innovation Fund creates ‘opportunity to dream’

NEW BEDFORD — Come Jan. 23, five finalists of United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Innovation Fund will find out if their organization’s dream could become a reality.

In changing its traditional funding model, United Way is encouraging other entities to think outside the box in order to make change in the community.

One or more awards will be presented at the free Innovation Fund Finalist Showcase and Awardee Announcement at the Whaling Museum Jan. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. The finalists are People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE), Global Learning Charter Public School, Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance, Greater New Bedford Community Health Center and The Women’s Center.

The Innovation Fund, which Hantman called the brainchild of Yates-Berg when she came on board over two years ago, allowed Executive Director Bruce Morell’s staff at PACE “an opportunity to dream,” he said.

Morell’s goal is to transform PACE’s Head Start Program, which has two locations in New Bedford and serves 295 children, into a trauma-informed preschool. The proposed plan is to partner with Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island which “provides expert, family-focused care to children and adolescents with psychological, developmental, and behavioral problems” according to its website, and train its 85 staff members in the program.

“What we have seen over the past couple of decades is an escalation in extreme behavior,” in children ages 3 and 4 with some coming from homes of domestic violence, substance abuse and opioid abuse, he said.

The idea is to do early intervention with kids and also their families, and eventually provide direct services, before they reach the public school system.

Read the complete article at SouthCoast Today.

Josh Amaral

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