$1 Million Investment in Hartford Children Changes Lives

Trinity College Awarded 16th Consecutive Grant to Support After-School Academic Mentoring Through the Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program

​Hartford, Connecticut, April 12, 2016 – Trinity College was recently awarded a $75,000 grant for continued support of the Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program (J-Z AMP™) initiated at Trinity in 2001 through the generosity of the Marie and John Zimmermann Fund.


​Mariyann Soulemane ’19 mentors Gabriel Luna, 14, at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy.
Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli
The J-Z AMP™ mentoring partnership provides three consecutive years of after-school mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment activities to sixth-grade students who are below grade level at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). These are kids who, for various reasons, would benefit from extra academic and social support. Mentors work with mentees on homework for at least one hour in each session and on developing skills such as organization and goal setting, which will help the mentees become successful in their studies and careers.

Outside of homework help, the groups engage in various activities, which include improvisation lessons with Trinity’s improvisation team, The Moveable Joints; cooking lessons; sports; and arts and crafts. They also enjoy monthly Saturday field trips to science centers, water parks, ice-skating, bowling, and a basketball clinic with the Trinity men’s basketball team.

The grant will help students like Jordan Gershman, Trinity College Class of 2019, who faced a big transition when she entered the sixth grade in 2008. The shy and precocious 11-year-old immediately felt that joining a mentoring program and having a role model would make the experience of being in a new school less daunting. That year, Gershman enrolled in the J-Z AMP™ at Trinity.

Life changing is how Gershman, recipient of the Class of 1963 Scholarship, described the program and the relationship with her mentor, Erin Dorsey ’12. “Erin met with me a few times a week after school and assisted me with my homework,” said Gershman, who plans to double major in English and in either Hispanic studies or psychology. After-school activities also included team-building exercises and roller-skating. In 2015, Gershman graduated from high school as the class valedictorian.

Gershman credits the program and Dorsey for her self-confidence and for encouraging her to attend Trinity. “Erin was a positive role model for me,” said Gershman. “She taught me what hard work and determination can lead to and motivated me to succeed. Attending Trinity is a dream come true.” Gershman hopes to pursue a doctorate and to teach at Trinity in the future.

Gershman was part of the 2007-2010 cohort that started the J-Z AMP™ in Hartford with 27 students. Of that group, 90 percent have graduated from high school. That figure compares with Hartford’s Connecticut State Department of Education-reported 2014 high school graduation rate of 71 percent. The success of the students in the program is especially notable, considering that the participants were among the most academically vulnerable upon entering it in the sixth grade. The Marie and John Zimmermann Fund also sponsors programs at Sacred Heart University and Yale University.

“Trinity College has been an excellent partner and incubator of the J-Z AMP™ partnership,” said Kristin Z. Miskavage, president of the Marie and John Zimmermann Fund. “Trinity’s delivery of this program through the HMTCA, and the HMTCA administration and staff who provide the atmosphere to make the program possible, deserve a great deal of credit for what they accomplish with these students. I can hardly think of a more important investment than the education of our future civic leaders and our future workforce.”

Part of the program’s success is due to the support from HMTCA teachers and staff and the families of the mentees in the program. Emily Meehan ’16, an assistant coordinator of the program, has been mentoring for three years. “I’ve always enjoyed working with students in a classroom and wanted to find a program that will involve the local community and help students do their homework,” said Meehan, who is majoring in educational studies and minoring in architectural studies. “The program allows me to do both.” After Meehan graduates in May, she will be teaching at an elementary school in Rhode Island with Teach For America.

Mentor Annabelle Regalado ’17, who is majoring in psychology and minoring in Hispanic studies, echoes Meehan’s sentiment. “Being a mentor for the past three years has been such a rewarding experience,” Regalado said. “I hope that I have made a difference in the lives of my mentees and that they feel empowered.”

Erinn Arbelaez, program coordinator of the J-Z AMP™ in Hartford has witnessed the success of the initiative. “The most meaningful part of the program is to see the mutually beneficial relationships that develop between the Trinity student mentors and the HMTCA students,” she said. “Both groups learn from each other and grow because of these relationships.”

Gershman aspires to make a difference for other students the way Dorsey did for her and plans to be a mentor next semester. “Trinity has great role models who encouraged me to study hard and were very supportive,” Gershman said. “They had a tremendous impact on me. My way of thanking and honoring them is to give back and to succeed.”

For more information about the program, visit www.jzamp.org and contact Erinn Arbelaez at (860) 297-2160 or erinn.arbelaez@trincoll.edu.

Written by Julia S. Chianelli


The Jones-Zimmermann Academic Mentoring Program (J-Z AMP™) is a proven path for dramatically improving outcomes among academically at-risk students. Via strong partnerships between urban universities and public school districts, J-Z AMP™ provides free, structured, after-school academic tutoring, life skills coaching, and enrichment activities to middle school students for three years.