Community Cafe - December 9, 2019

HOPE Award winners!

Sana Cotton, Shardae Nicholson, Felicia Goodwine 

Photo credits: Left - Ben Jordan / Photo Images Co.

Below - Cassandra Day / Hearst Media Connecticut

 Please Note: This was our 1st Round of HOPE Awards. The 2nd Round will kick off in Spring 2020! Please stay tuned! 

MW HOPE Award Application Round One_FINAL (pdf)



The Working Cities Initiative, Middletown WORKS, is based on a collaborative leadership model, consisting of 30 partners led by The Connection, Inc., Middlesex United Way and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT).  Middletown WORKS is different than other initiatives because we bring together residents and business owners to improve the City of Middletown. This initiative was formed with funding from the Working Cities Challenge grant program administered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (click on logo to the right to view website). 

The City of Middletown was chosen as our target because despite Middletown's culture of collaboration and diversity, a high level of disparity and poverty exists in our City.


Single parent Families

Our Focus

Middletown is home to 10,567 families. Of these, 43% are single parent families.  35% of these, or 1,590 families, are living at or below the Federal Poverty Level, which is an annual income of $24,600 for a family of four.

Our Shared Vision (10 Year Goal):

To increase prosperity and reduce poverty for Middletown single parent families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level from 35% to 20% over a ten year period (by 2028).

Root Causes of the Problem

Did You Know?

1) Single parents, particularly women of color, lack access to, and feel excluded from, vocational resources and opportunities that lead to living wage jobs.

2) Local employment services and municipal resources are fragmented and not necessarily geared toward single parent employees. 

3) A high level of  turnover in entry-level positions is accepted as the norm by local employers.


About Us


About the Director

The Working Cities Challenge Initiative

The Working Cities Challenge Initiative

 Rebecca Lemanski, MSW

Rebecca began her career as a Parent Educator in 2005 at Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) in Middletown, CT. For over a decade, Rebecca worked with hundreds of caregivers impacted by severe trauma and abuse to promote nurturing parenting and self-reflection. After spending 14 years providing community-based education and support to families, Rebecca pivoted her career and began focusing on community health and well-being, with an emphasis on resilience. Rebecca’s passion for mitigating trauma and cultivating resilience is evidenced by the founding of a regional collaborative in 2018 called the Community Resilience Collaborative of Middlesex County (CRC) to help develop systems grounded in trauma and resiliency informed approaches. 

Currently, Rebecca serves as Director of Middletown WORKS, an economic initiative of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, designed to increase prosperity among Middletown’s single parent families living in poverty through systems change, collaborative leadership and collective impact.  Rebecca holds a Master of Social Work Administration from UConn School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (K-6) from Central Connecticut State University. She lives in Connecticut with her 13-year-old son and during her free time, enjoys reading, cycling, lifting weights and traveling. 


The Working Cities Challenge Initiative

The Working Cities Challenge Initiative

The Working Cities Challenge Initiative


The Connecticut Working Cities Challenge, a grant competition  through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is designed to support cross-sector, collaborative leadership and ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in small and mid-size cities in Connecticut.

Connecticut's winning cities include (cities with population > 25,000 that have median family incomes below the state's median family income and poverty rates above the state poverty rate): Danbury


 East Hartford




Please click here to learn more. 


Thank You

The Working Cities Challenge Initiative

Thank You

Whether you help through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you. 

Meet our newest staff


Camille Smith | Career Navigator

 Camille is a dedicated school and community volunteer. She serves on the several boards including the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition, School District’s Leadership Team, Equity Team, Middletown High School Governance Councils and Macdonough School’s Family as Partners.

Camille works as a Parent Leadership Training Coordinator for Middletown Public Schools, a substitute Direct Support Staff for individuals with mental health challenges and a companion and caregiver to the elderly. 

 In May 2006, Camille received her Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Middlesex Community College and in May 2009, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Saint Joseph University.

Camille resides in Middletown with her three sons, one daughter and two grandsons. During her free moments, she cherishes time with her family, and enjoys traveling, singing, dancing, gardening, advocating for the community, cooking and reading.

Open Community Meetings & Events

A Simple Hello Could Lead to a Million Things


Community Cafes - Moved to Virtual Platform

5 pm - 6:30 pm

Mx YMCA | Hazen Room | 99 Union St. Middletown


Community Cafes - Moved to Virtual Platform

 Out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively addressing concerns surrounding Coronavirus (Covid-19). The health & safety of our Middl...

5 pm - 6:30 pm

Mx YMCA | Hazen Room | 99 Union St. Middletown


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