ani vong
ani vong

Community Teamwork Hires Local Business Owner

PRIME funds will be used to hire local consultants who will provide critical support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.

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Ani Vong

By AMY SOKOLOW | asokolow@lowellsun.com |

PUBLISHED: February 9, 2021 at 1:58 p.m. | UPDATED: February 9, 2021 at 4:54 p.m.

LOWELL — The Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork, a Lowell-based group that teaches entrepreneurship and financial skills to local business owners, has hired Ani Vong, owner of Humanity Boutique in Lowell.

Vong, a Khmer American woman, who will help manage $650,000 in funding as the specialized technical assistance team’s (STAT) program coordinator.

“The Entrepreneurship Center @CTI, with its mission and all that it’s accomplished in support of small businesses and the local economy, is an organization I see myself growing with, and with my experience I can help further their mission,” Vong said. “I am passionate about supporting others on their entrepreneurial journey.”

“One of the greatest gifts the ownership of Humanity afforded Ani is a central place in the community – as a business owner, a Khmer woman, and a supporter of entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Franky Descoteaux, director of the Entrepreneurship Center. “She is well-connected within the business community as well as the nonprofit community in Lowell and surrounding areas. Ani’s ability to wear many hats as a business owner, along with the demands of her nonprofit volunteer work, has forged her into a sensible, entrepreneurial spirit. It’s this spirit, we believe, that will be of great benefit to the Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork.”

The funding Vong will manage comes from a variety of sources, including a highly competitive Small Business Administration (SBA) PRIME grant.

The Entrepreneurship Center was one of 27 awardees, and two in Mass., out of 200 national applicants. In partnership with Lowell’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) COVID emergency funds, PRIME funds will be used to hire local consultants who will provide critical support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Vong has steered her boutique, opened in 2014, through slow economic times before, including the pandemic. In the last year, she has transformed her business into an e-commerce presence and pop-up shop.

As the STAT Program Coordinator at the Entrepreneurship Center, Vong will provide culturally and language competent consulting to underserved restaurants and retailers across Lowell, focusing in Cambodia Town, The Acre, Downtown, and Back Central.

The Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork will work with local partners to identify consultants, including the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), Working Cities Challenge, African Community Center of Lowell (ACCL), Portuguese American Center, the LatinX Community Center for Empowerment and others.

The goal of the STAT team is to work with the business owner to resolve current business challenges and to help them achieve future business goals. Consultants will work collaboratively with business owners, completing necessary tasks, training new critical skills, setting up systems for long-term success, and amplifying local business awareness through coordinated marketing.

 

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Community Teamwork Hires Local Business Owner, Ani Vong

By Amy Sokolow asokolow@ lowellsun. com Lowell »

The Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork Inc., a Lowell- based group that teaches entrepreneurship and financial skills to local business owners, has hired Ani Vong, owner of Humanity Boutique in Lowell.

Vong, a Khmer American woman, will help manage $ 650,000 in funding as the specialized technical assistance team’s (STAT) program coordinator. “The Entrepreneurship Center @ CTI, with its mission and all that it’s accomplished in support of small businesses and the local economy, is an organization I see myself growing with, and with my experience I can help further their mission,” Vong said. “I am passionate about supporting others on their entrepreneurial journey.”

“One of the greatest gifts the ownership of Humanity afforded Ani is a central place in the community — as a business owner, a Khmer woman, and a supporter of entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Franky Descoteaux, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center. “She is well- connected within the business community as well as the nonprofit community in Lowell and surrounding areas. Ani’s ability to wear many hats as a business owner, along with the demands of her nonprofit volunteer work, has forged her into a sensible, entrepreneurial spirit. It’s this spirit, we believe, that will be of great benefit to the Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork.”

The funding Vong will manage comes from a variety of sources, including a highly competitive Small Business Administration (SBA) PRIME grant.

ani Vong joins CTI from Humanity boutique. Courtesy Community Teamwork Inc.

The Entrepreneurship Center was one of 27 awardees, and two in Massachusetts, out of 200 national applicants. In partnership with Lowell’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) COVID emergency funds, PRIME funds will be used to hire local consultants who will provide critical support to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Vong has steered her boutique, opened in 2014, through slow economic times before, including the pandemic. In the last year, she has transformed her business into an e- commerce presence and a pop- up type shop.

As the STAT Program Coordinator at the Entrepreneurship Center, Vong will provide culturally and language competent consulting to underserved restaurants and retailers across Lowell, focusing in Cambodia Town, The Acre, Downtown and Back Central. The Entrepreneurship Center at Community Teamwork will work with local partners to identify consultants, including the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), Working Cities Challenge, African Community Center of Lowell (ACCL), Portuguese American Center, the LatinX Community Center for Empowerment and others. The goal of the STAT team is to work with the business owner to resolve current business challenges and to help them achieve future business goals.

Consultants will work collaboratively with business owners, completing necessary tasks, training new critical skills, setting up systems for long- term success, and amplifying local business awareness through coordinated marketing.

 

MASSCAP, Community Teamwork and other Community Action Agencies Launch Annual Volunteer Free Tax Preparation Program that Aids Low Income Families

CTI Offering Free Tax Prep to Low-Income Families

Lowell, MA (February 3, 2021) – MASSCAP and Community Teamwork, along with the 22 other Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in the state were joined by Congressman Richard Neal, Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Natalie Blais, among others in kicking off this year’s tax season by launching the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) as well as recognizing the importance of accessing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“Perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, helping low-income workers access the EITC – one of our most powerful tools to address poverty – is so critical. So many have lost income and are counting on the resources of VITA sites which can help them with free tax preparation,” pointed out Joe Diamond, MASSCAP Executive Director.

At Community Teamwork and other VITA sites, volunteers not only provide free tax prep and access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax credits, to low-income taxpayers allowing them to pay bills, cover essential needs such as rent, save, and plan for the future, but also link them to other critical services strengthening families and the local economy. CTI’s Susan Trottier expressed her commitment and enjoyment in working into her 6th year as a volunteer for the VITA program, “I learn so much every year and love helping our community.”

The Earned Income Tax Credit has been called one of the most successful antipoverty programs. It bridges the wage gap – since the late 1970s wages have not kept up with productivity and many working people have trouble meeting their basic needs. The EITC, along with other tax credits, has been shown to improve infant health outcomes, employment rates of single mothers, child educational achievement, and future earnings.

“VITA is an invaluable program that does so much good for people who need it and helps to bridge the wage gap and fight poverty. Our work this tax season, along with the wide range of services we offer, including Early Education and Care, Head Start, Fuel Assistance, housing programs and financial education will help ease families’ financial burden and let them know that the community cares about them. Our integrated approach is key in helping people find stability in their lives and move out of poverty.”, said Karen Frederick, CEO of Community Teamwork.

Community Teamwork is offering tax preparation for low-income families, starting February 1st through April 10th. Due to Covid-19, CTI will not be offering in-person or face-to-face appointments! CTI services will be offered online at www.getyourrefund.org/cti or our partner site www.getyourrefund.org/GLCAC – Links can be accessed by PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone!  At the Resource Center, 17 Kirk Street in Lowell, CTI will also offer Drop Off (Saturdays 2/6 through 4/3, 9-12pm) & Pick Up later for clients that do not have access to tech devices.

For more information on CTI’s VITA Program, please visit www.commteam.org/vita and

www.masscap.org/freetaxprep.

 

CTI Programs Closed as Virus Precaution

Lowell Sun 1/29/2021

CTI closed its Early Learning Program and School Age sites for five days  as a precaution against COVID-19

By Robert Mills

rmills@lowellsun. com

Lowell » Community Teamwork Inc. closed its Early Learning Program and School Age sites, which host about 450 children, for five days earlier this month as a precaution against COVID-19, according to administrators.

The programs were closed from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22.

“Community Teamwork has not had any known transmission of COVID within our programs which has forced closure, rather, closures are due to staff being out with flu and cold- like symptoms. We are extremely cautious and presume all staff positive until they are able to get tested,” said Kathleen Plath, CTI’s development officer.

“The decision to close was a difficult one, knowing how critical our services are to the children and families in our community,” she said.

“We consulted with local DPH office, Department of Early Education and Care, and assessed our ability to operate with a reduced workforce.”

When about 10% of students and 25% of staff were quarantined due to exposures or cold and flu- like symptoms, the programs were closed in an effort to ensure staffing levels could be maintained, according to Meghan Siembor, director

of CTI’s Division of Child and Family Services. “We wanted to make sure we had enough staff to adhere to the safety protocols,” Siembor said. “We thought that if we close and get everyone healthy it will ensure we can remain open for the rest of the pandemic.”

Plath said CTI has adhered to “stringent” health and safety guidelines for the programs since they reopened in July, and that the closure was a long- term strategy to maintain a healthy environment.

“Closing for a short stint enabled our staff to recuperate, allowed us to do some deep cleaning, and enabled us to resume operations much quicker than we would have, if more staff needed to be out,” Plath said.

 

https://lowellsun-ma.newsmemory.com?selDate=20210129&goTo=A06&artid=0

 

CTI Names New CPO

Nonprofit Names New Chief Program Officer
Community Teamwork Inc.

by Aaron Curtis
acurtis@ lowellsun.com

Lowell » Community Teamwork Inc. recently announced a new chief program officer, promoting
from within to fill the spot. Carl Howell, who previously served as CTI’s Director of Residential programs — and most recently as Division Director of Housing and Homeless Services — will replace current Chief Program Officer Michael Collins, who is retiring from the position effective Jan. 31.

“ I am honored and excited to take on this new role at Community Teamwork,” Howell said in a statement released by CTI. “ The last two chief program officers were Karen Frederick and Michael Collins and I’ve been lucky to have been mentored by both of them. Howell has been with CTI since 2010. CTI says its mission is to “ help people help themselves with childcare, family supports, nutrition, fuel assistance, housing, skill training, employment, financial education and individual asset and small business development.”

“ During my time at Community Teamwork, I have been able to interact in an extensive way with many
different programs across the divisions as well as the community, especially this past year, and I look
forward to expanding on my role both within the agency and the community as I move into the position
of chief program officer,” Howell said. In Howell’s role as CTI’s division director of Housing
and Homeless Services, his focus has been on the operations of a variety of programming and supportive
services the nonprofit provides across 72 cities and towns statewide. The programs include homeless
prevention, as well as administrating subsidized housing to more than 3,600 tenants. Howell joined CTI after working with Catholic Charities in Baltimore County, Md., where he managed Christopher’s Place
Employment Academy — a workforce development program for homeless men.

Prior to that, Howell spent two years at Target Community and Educational Services in Westminster,
Md., where he managed residential programs for adults with developmental disabilities. Howell also was a supervisor of case management services for three years at Chase Home for Children, in Portsmouth, N.H., which is a residential home for children in need of behavioral and clinical supports.

“In his most recent roll, Carl has overseen the creation and expansion of our Youth Services programming, increased family shelter opportunities, introduced new programming such as SNO MASS, and taken the lead in the Agency’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work,” CTI CEO Karen Frederick said in a release from the nonprofit. “ Many of these services have become recognized for their innovation, success and effectiveness.

“I look forward to the energy and leadership Howell will bring to his new role as chief program officer,” she added.

Howell will begin his new position Feb. 1.

Cti health safety content coordinator Vernon smith left and group leader tiffany De oliveira both of lowell inside lowell Memorial auditorium
Cti health safety content coordinator Vernon smith left and group leader tiffany De oliveira both of lowell inside lowell Memorial auditorium

Curtain call for remote learners

With CTI’s help, venue shifts from shows to education Lowell MEMORIAL Auditorium

Lowell Sun 1/10/2021
By Barry Scanlon, Correspondent

https://bit.ly/3oBzltlt

Lowell » During its nearly 100- year run, Lowell Memorial Auditorium has hosted musicians, comedians, actors, boxers, dancers, and much more.

Now the venerable building on East Merrimack Street has added a new chapter to its glorious history: Classroom.

The building is hosting 24 students Monday through Friday thanks to a partnership between Pete Lally, president of the Lowell Management Group, and Community Teamwork, Inc.

“ It’s really nice to have the auditorium being used, especially for something like this in the community where there’s such a need,” Lally said. Lally was approached by Kathleen Plath, CTI’s director of Development and Marketing. Due to the pandemic, CTI was looking for buildings with capacity to help students learn remotely.

“ She said, ‘ Hey, I know you’re not doing many concerts these days,’” Lally said.

Indeed, few industries have been hurt by the pandemic more than the entertainment one. Events booked at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium have been canceled or postponed since last March. The auditorium, which opened in 1922, consists of 2,800 seats for most events and has 100,000 square feet of room.

“ It’s been a busy place for so many things,” Lally said. “ There’s been a number of days it was pretty much just me there.”

Lally jumped at the chance to assist CTI, an organization that does “ so many good things,” he said.

There were some hurdles to clear, mainly getting a license from the Department of Early Education and Care. That process took about six weeks as the auditorium was tested for air quality and the building’s WiFi had to be upgraded.

Auditorium » 6A

 

CTI health & safety content coordinator Vernon smith, left, and group leader tiffany De Oliveira, both of Lowell, inside Lowell Memorial auditorium which is hosting two-dozen schoolchildren for remote learning.

Julia Malakie photos/ lowell sun

Demetri Rivera-Robinson, 8, of lowell, uses on an online drawing instruction program.

Auditorium

FROM PAGE 1A

A total of 24 students, ages 5-13, have been remote learning at one of Lowell’s most notable buildings since Dec. 19. That number will grow, possibly up to 104, as CTI increases its staffing level. The students are able to use the building from 7 a. m. to 5 p. m., freeing up their parents to work during the day.

CTI is committed to helping low-income people become self sufficient. The organization serves 63 cities and towns in Middlesex and Essex counties.

“ It’s been absolutely fabulous,” said Meghan Siembor, CTI’s director of the Division of Child and Family Services. “ The kids love being there. The staff loves being there. It was a winwin. Pete and his entire team were fabulous to work with. It was a shared mission.

You don’t want buildings unoccupied, es- pecially during the winter.”

CTI looked into other venues, including community centers and churches, before finding the perfect match with Lally, Siembor said.

CTI provides meals to be brought to the students. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are provided. The auditorium also affords space for the children to stay active when they close their laptops.

The stage has been used for acting purposes, and the auditorium also has space for arts and crafts activities.

Students learn while being socially distanced on the main floor of the building. Meeting spaces on the upper floors are available as well.

“ I think the parents are so grateful,” Siembor said.

The Lowell Memorial Auditorium normally hosts 120- 140 events a year. The Golden Gloves boxing tournament, concerts, dance competitions and recitals, High school graduations. It’s normally a beehive of activity.

Lally, who also operates entertainment buildings in Lexington and Plymouth, said the partnership between his group and CTI will continue through the end of February. If the pandemic continues to wreak havoc with the auditorium’s schedule, students may be allowed to learn there into the spring.

“ It’s refreshing for us to have it used 50 to 60 hours a week,” Lally said.

Karen Frederick, CTI executive director, echoed a similar sentiment: “ The partnership with the Lowell Memorial Auditorium has enabled us to provide services to our families and keep people working in the community, which they would not be able to do without much needed childcare. This is a good example of the community coming together to meet the needs created by this pandemic. We are grateful that LMA Management and the city of Lowell were willing to work with us to think outside the box to come up with this solution.”

Kaleb Liman, 7, of Lowell, shows his work to group leader Keily Escalante at Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

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breastfeeding
breastfeeding

GLCF Grant Helps Nonprofits Improve Virtual Programming

LOCAL NEWS

Local nonprofits create new online programming thanks to technical-training classes from Lowell TeleMedia Center, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation

Eva Cortes, a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor, provided well-baby sessions online when Lowell’s Community Teamwork Inc. benefited from LTC’s Media Making classes, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. COURTESY GLCF

By KATHY REGISTER, SPECIAL TO THE SUN |

November 28, 2020 at 5:51 a.m.

LOWELL – Virtual well-baby visits for new moms and infants. Monitoring a nest of turtle eggs in the wild. Cooking videos led by a local nutritionist. Online nature walks with a botanical illustrator.

These are just a few examples of the new online programming local nonprofits have created, thanks to technical-training classes from Lowell TeleMedia Center, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

Last spring, when the pandemic forced nonprofit organizations into lockdown mode, they moved their face-to-face programs online. However, as summer fast approached, many realized they needed help creating virtual programming to attract young people.

A baby Blanding’s turtle was hatched from a nest monitored by Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust as part of its virtual summer programming. The LPCT received LTC training to create virtual content as part of a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. COURTESY GLCF

“Kids are usually outside running around during the summer, but all that changed this year with COVID-19,” LTC Executive Director Wendy Blom said. “Our local nonprofits knew they had to start offering online summer programming — and they had to do it quickly.”

Recognizing this need, GLCF awarded a $5,000 grant to LTC to organize a series of Media Making classes for 10 youth-serving nonprofits.

Offered in late June and early July, the training covered Zoom, social media, TikTok, cellphone video, podcasting and iMovie editing.

“In our spring Zoom meetings with local nonprofits, they let us know they wanted skills training for virtual programming,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO. “Our nonprofit partners needed to pivot their in-person programming online and wanted it to be quality, engaging content for discerning youth. We knew LTC could provide that training.”

The response to Media Making classes was overwhelmingly positive, Blom said.

“I was amazed that so many organizations — and how many staff — wanted to take our classes,” she said.

LTC trained 115 people, she said, and both small and large nonprofits took advantage of the six courses. The online content they created was also highly varied.

Jane Calvin, executive director of Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, said her staff of four welcomed the training.

“It was perfect timing,” she said. “We had already started creating virtual content but had questions about how to do it better and how to get it out to a wider audience.”

One of the few accredited urban land trusts in the country, LPCT protects land throughout Lowell and provides community programming to connect residents to natural resources in the city, including outdoor after-school and summer programs.

“When COVID shut everything down, I told my staff, ‘Be creative! Let’s take advantage of this time to get out to Trust properties we haven’t videoed before,’” Calvin recalled.

So, Environmental Educator Emily Wood began making virtual nature walks, encouraging viewers to create nature journals to keep track of the plants and animals they encountered.

Wood’s engrossing videos also feature beautiful time-lapse botanical illustrations she draws on camera.

The trust also created virtual content teachers could use, added Calvin. In previous years, three Lowell science teachers had run popular “turtle adoption” programs in their classrooms. Shortly after COVID-19 shut down schools, a trust staff member noticed that a rare Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species, had laid eggs in her neighborhood. She began making short videos as she kept watch over the nest.

During the summer, in conjunction with Zoo New England, LPCT monitored the nest, and eventually, eight baby turtles hatched. Trust staff and volunteers are now raising the turtles in a terrarium in the office and plan to release them back into the wild next spring.

Lowell’s Community Teamwork Inc., a community action agency with more than 500 employees, also benefited from the Media Making classes, according to Amy Weatherbee, Manager of Grants & Planning.

“By March 16, word of mouth just shut down, so word of mouth went virtual,” Weatherbee said. “We had to pivot quickly to online program delivery, and when this opportunity at LTC came up, we jumped at it. Not only did our summer youth programmers want training, but we also asked if staff from other CTI divisions could attend Media Making classes,” she said.

The foundation agreed, and CTI sent more than 30 staffers from across the organization to the virtual classes.

As a result, CTI’s Entrepreneurship Center began hosting daily Zoom calls for small-business owners with questions about how to apply for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, Weatherbee said.

No longer able to hold in-person nutrition workshops, a nutritionist in CTI’s Women, Infants &;Children, or WIC, program created a series of popular “healthy eating” cooking videos. Another WIC staffer moved her well-baby sessions online and, in the process, discovered that her client list grew because new moms found it easier to attend virtually.

According to Weatherbee, these are just a few of the many ways CTI utilized Media Making classes to improve client outreach.

“The foundation was great,” she said. “It stepped in and quickly provided much-needed help to agencies that had to switch to the realities of remote work,” she said.

“This type of grant,” said Jennifer Aradhya, GLCF’s vice president of marketing and programs, “is what community foundations do best — convening nonprofit partners, identifying a common need and providing a funding solution. This partnership is real grass-roots philanthropy at its best. And in this case, the skills our partners gained have set them up nicely for future programming.”

 

Kathy Register, Special to the sun

 

lowell auditorium during pandemic
lowell auditorium during pandemic

Despite pandemic, Lowell Memorial Auditorium managers optimistic

Lowell Memorial Auditorium management is hoping for a better 2021 season after, or despite, the COVID-19 pandemic. LMG is also in talks with Community Teamwork, Inc., to use the facility for child care during the week.

Lowell Memorial Auditorium management is hoping for a better 2021 season after, or despite, the COVID-19 pandemic. From left, box office manager John Higgins, director of strategy and business development Brandon Caron, general manager Pete Lally, director of marketing Dan Berube, and director of operations Steve Purtell, in the auditorium, where they’ve been experimenting with table set up for 250 people, if that becomes allowed. (SUN/Julia Malakie)

By ALANA MELANSON | amelanson@lowellsun.com | Lowell Sun

PUBLISHED: October 12, 2020 at 9:35 a.m. | UPDATED: October 13, 2020 at 7:40 a.m.

LOWELL — In 2019, Lowell Management Group celebrated a strong first year of managing the Lowell Memorial Auditorium with a number of sold-out shows and performances by big-name entertainers.

Headed into 2020, it appeared nothing would stop that increasing momentum, as it drew countless people to downtown Lowell and helped spur economic activity.

“We were having a tremendous year,” said LMG partner John Chemaly. “It was going to be a banner year for LMG and the auditorium, and the city as well.”

But in March, the coronavirus pandemic hit, stopping that momentum dead in its tracks.

“The rug just got pulled right out,” LMG partner Chris Dick said.

Lowell Memorial Auditorium management is hoping for a better 2021 season after, or despite, the COVID-19 pandemic. General manager Pete Lally in the auditorium, where they’ve been experimenting with table set up for 250 people, if that becomes allowed. (SUN/Julia Malakie)

The last show was held in mid-March, and since then the bookings on the calendar have been pushed further out repeatedly as the pandemic has worn on.

“The business certainly has been affected a lot,” LMG President Pete Lally said. “But artists want to play, agents want to book and venues want to put artists on stages. Everybody is working hard to do it in the time frame we can.”

Lally said the big acts like Jay Leno, Kansas and the Righteous Brothers, who were supposed to come to Lowell this year, will come — eventually. They’ve all been rescheduled for 2021, up to a year beyond their original show dates.

Aside from the ticketed concerts and other shows, the spring normally brings a variety of dance recitals and competitions, proms, graduations and nonprofit events to the auditorium — about 50 of which had to either be canceled or postponed, Lally said.

He said it’s hard to estimate exactly how much revenue LMG has lost during the shutdown. But it certainly has had a big impact, considering it couldn’t hold any shows for most of March through June, normally the busiest months, Lally said.

About 100 part-time staff members and half of LMG’s full-time staff were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, Lally said. Chemaly said federal Paycheck Protection Program assistance helped to keep core staff on board. Lally said he hopes gradually to bring back as many employees as possible.

Director of Marketing Dan Berube said the large shows on the schedule were meant to be full-capacity events and will probably not be held until it is safe to hold them as such at the auditorium. But in the meantime, it may be possible to begin with some reduced-capacity events with more local artists, he said.

LMG was encouraged by some recent guidance from the state that some communities may be able to have events with up to 250 people under certain circumstances, Lally said. However, with Lowell still considered a high-risk community, it’s “not quite there yet,” he said.

The auditorium — which can hold up to 2,800 in normal times — offers a lot of flexibility for movable seating and tables that can allow people to keep a safe distance, Lally and Berube said. They’re looking at developing some new programming that uses both indoor and outdoor space, like the Lowell Irish Festival held last September, Lally said.

Berube said booking has been a bit tricky because the business is schedule-dependent. Artists on tour and ticket-holders want to be confident that shows will be held on the scheduled dates and that they’ll feel safe in the venue, he said.

“Any time you talk about holding an event these days, people have a ton of questions. What are the protocols — masks, hand sanitizer? How many people are coming in the building, and how many feet apart are they?” Berube said. “There’s a whole new rulebook that is getting developed that you have to have to do an event these days.”

He and Lally said they’ve done a lot of work around floor plans and crowd flow, including using multiple entrances, directional spacing and assigned restrooms.

LMG is also in talks with Community Teamwork, Inc., to use the facility for child care during the week.

CTI Director of Development and Marketing Kathleen Plath said CTI is grateful that Lally and LMG were “willing to look outside the box and consider this.” She said CTI is still working out the details with LMG, and the licensing and occupancy permitting with the state, which will determine the number of children that could be at the facility.

CTI typically has about 500 children in its day-care programs, including before and after school hours, but due to COVID and social-distancing requirements, the organization was only able to bring back about 80 children in its existing classroom space, Plath said. She said CTI is also in talks with some other entities around the city to try to gain more space in order to bring back all of its child-care clients and help parents get back to work.

For school-age kids in the program during the school day, the venue can also provide reliable internet for students to do remote learning, Plath and Lally said.

Plath said the partnership with the auditorium management could open the door to additional programming, such as theater programs for kids.

Even though there haven’t been shows, LMG has been making some changes behind the scenes that will benefit operations and efficiency when the auditorium is back up and running.

“Just because the lights are out on the stage doesn’t mean they’re out in the offices,” Lally said. “We’re working every day to make sure we can come back as soon as possible and to do that safely.”

That includes new software systems to handle booking and contracting, as well as new filters for the building’s ventilation system to help keep occupants safe, Lally said. He said they’re also evaluating a new cloud-based phone and customer-service system that should help LMG better communicate with customers, and address and track their concerns.

Berube said they are also looking at developing a membership program for those who like not only to attend shows in Lowell but also at other venues around the region that are managed by LMG’s sister company, Spectacle Management.

Chemaly said they’re thankful many sponsors, like Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, are sticking with them through the whole thing.

“As they say, the show must go on, and we’ll be going after it in 2021,” Dick said.

Alana Melanson | Multimedia journalist

Alana Melanson is a regional general assignment reporter who has been with The Sun since September 2014. Before that, she spent three years covering Fitchburg at The Sun’s sister paper, the Sentinel & Enterprise. A Worcester-area native and graduate of UMass Amherst, Alana enjoys live music, traveling and making jewelry.

amelanson@lowellsun.com

Follow Alana Melanson @AlanaMelanson

https://www.lowellsun.com/2020/10/12/despite-pandemic-lowell-memorial-auditorium-managers-optimistic-about-the-future/

 

karen signature
karen signature

Equity for Early Education, Out of School Time (OST) Teachers, and Programs

While public school systems have returned to classrooms mostly in hybrid or remote models, early education programs were allowed to open in July and, if subsidized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, were required to open by the end of July to be eligible for continued payment to care for and educate the State’s most at-risk, low-income children. This allows working parents who have no option of remote work to continue to provide for their families and support our local economy.

On July 8, Community Teamwork opened our doors and safely phased in up to 50% of our previous enrollment by the end of July. Recently, we were informed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) that we could increase our classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to 20 children if space allows. We have seen no data or public health information which supports this increase. With the benefit of only one month of reopening data, flu season on the way, and a projected spike of Covid-19 virus cases sometime in the Fall, we feel this is premature and dangerous to our staff, children and their families – especially as schools in gateway cities are determining that completely remote or less than 50% of enrollment is the safe option.

Looking at this new guidance with a racial equity lens is even more disturbing. Our staff represent our population. They are a majority people of color who are already hit harder by this virus, as are our students and their families. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Government, who subsidize our programs for low-income and at-risk children and families, have a responsibility to assist us in ensuring the safety and sustainability of our programs. Children who are learning remotely need access to child care where they can be safe and supervised in the learning process. Without our high-quality early education and care programs, the achievement gap will continue to grow.

Parents, businesses and our economy need us. We have long talked about the important role of early education and child care in children’s academic success, and we have long recognized the role child care plays in the economy. Parents cannot work without safe, affordable, high quality programs. Many essential workers and single parents working in nursing homes, hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants shelters, group homes and child care centers are low-wage workers who depend on state and federally funded subsidized programs to care for and educate their children. The subsidized system of the Massachusetts Dept. of Early Education and Care was fragile prior to Covid, with state rates as much as 30% lower than private rates. Across the state, our programs are currently looking at when to close down classrooms, lay off staff and even close entire centers. Stable, adequate funding must be made available so that our programs are still here when it safe to reopen to capacity. This is a critical time which will determine the future of our field and parents’ access to affordable, quality education and care for their infants through school age children.
To continue to operate safely and to begin to think about expansion to meet the need, rapid COVID-19 testing for staff, children, and their families must be available in all areas of the State to programs serving infants through school age children in the Commonwealth.

Improving educational outcomes for children and achieving racial equity in our Communities starts with quality early education and school age programs. And, supporting families working hard at essential jobs to provide food, housing and opportunity to their families is essential to our economy.

Our Early Educators and OST educators are-paid a fraction of public school salaries and are significantly women of color. They continue to work on the front lines with children each day as parents seek high-quality early education and OST programming for their children. We request that the Commonwealth provide $70 million to raise salaries and recognize the commitment of our underpaid early learning and OST staff who are working on the front lines of the pandemic. We also call on the Commonwealth and Federal Government to adequately and stably fund Early Education Programs and to provide essential resources such as testing to ensure their future existence and to ensure our economy can fully recover.

Sincerely,

Karen Frederick, CEO

Meghan Adams Siembor
Division Director, Child and Family Services

kids on bus
kids on bus

Opening Safely Should be a Top Priority

EARLY EDUCATION CENTERS

by Karen Frederick and Meghan Adams Siembor

LOWELL SUN 9/28/2020 B: Focus     Page B01 1/2

While public school educators and school systems are still debating how to safely return ( or not) to classrooms, early education programs were allowed to open in July, and if subsidized by the commonwealth were required to open by the end of July to be eligible for continued payment to care for and educate the state’s most at risk, low income children. This allows working parents who have no option of remote work to continue to provide for their families and support our
local economy. On July 8, Community Teamwork opened our doors and safely phased in up to 50% of our previous
enrollment by the end of July. This past Friday we were informed by the Department of Early Education and
Care that we could increase our classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to 20 children. We have
seen no data or public health information which supports this increase.

With the benefit of only one month of reopening data, flu season on the way, and a projected spike sometime
in the fall of Covid-19 virus cases, we feel this is premature and dangerous to our staff, children and their
families — especially as schools are determining in some cities that even 25% of enrollment is not safe.
Looking at this new directive with a racial equity lens is even more disturbing. Our staff represent our
population. There are a majority of people of color who are already hit harder by this virus, as are our students
and their families. The commonwealth and the federal govern

Julia Malakie / LOWELL SUN

We were informed by the Department of Early
Education and Care that we could increase our
classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to
20 children.
We have seen no data or public health information
which supports this increase.

Education
FROM PAGE 1B
ment that subsidize our programs for low income and at-risk children and families have a responsibility to
ensure the safety and sustainability of our programs. Without our high-quality early education and care
programs, the achievement gap will grow even higher. Parents, businesses, and our economy need us. We
have long talked about the important role of early education and child care in children’s academic
success, and we have long recognized the role child Just last week mobile, rapid Covid testing was made
available to public schools ( not yet open.) We applaud this initiative but ask why this has not been made
available to our programs, which have been open since July.

Across the sate, some early education programs are waiting up to 10 days for test results and several days
to even get appointments for testing. It is crucial that mobile rapid testing for staff, children and their
families be made available to programs already operating and serving infants through school age
children in the commonwealth. Opening safely should be a top priority Early Education Centers

9/28/2020 B: Focus
2/2
care plays in the economy. Parents cannot work without safe, affordable, high quality programs. Many
workers and single parents working in nursing homes, hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants shelter,
group homes, and child care centers are low wage workers who depend on state and federally funded
subsidized programs to care for and educate their children.

The subsidized system of the state’s Department of Early Education and Care was fragile prior to Covid,
with state rates as much as 30% lower than private rates. Across the state, our programs are currently
looking at when to close down classrooms, lay off staff, and even close entire centers.
Stable, adequate funding must be made available so that our programs are still here when it is safe to reopen
to capacity. This is a critical time which will determine the future of our field and parents’ access to affordable,
quality education and care for their infants through school age children. Improving educational outcomes for children and
achieving racial equity in our communities starts with quality early education. And supporting families working hard at essential jobs to provide food, housing and opportunity to their families is essential to our economy.

We call on the commonwealth and federal government to adequately and stably fund Early Education
Programs and to provide essential resources such as testing to ensure their future existence and to ensure
our economy can fully recover. Karen Frederick, CEO, and Meghan Adams Siembor, Division Director, Child
and Family Services at Community Teamwork

© 2020 lowell sun. Please review new arbitration language here. 9/27/2020
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Valuable, Virtual Internship

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This summer Project LEARN launched Commencement 2 Careers – Valuable, Virtual Internship

By Emma Murphy

emurphy@ lowellsun. com

Lowell » A new Project LEARN program is giving high school students the chance to gain real-world work experience through local internships even amid COVID-19 public health restrictions.

This summer Project LEARN launched Commencement 2 Careers, a two- month virtual program that teaches students how to build resumes, dress for the job and use essential tools like Microsoft Excel. After learning those skills in the program’s first few

Interns » 4a

Lowell High class of 2020 graduates Shaveen Gachau and Stacey McGuire, who have internships through Project Learn’s commencement 2 careers program, chat with Lowell High teacher Kendra Bauer and Project learn executive director LZ Nunn.

Franky Descoteaux, director of the entrepreneurship center @cti, poses with Lowell High class of 2020 graduate Koby Pailin, who has an internship through Project Learn’s commencement 2 careers program. at top, 

Julia Malakie Photos /Lowell Sun

From Page 1a

weeks, participating students then intern for a local participating business or organization.

“ COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted our students and families here in Lowell,” Executive Director of Project LEARN LZ Nunn said in an email. “ The goal in creating C2C was to develop real- world work experience and skill building, in a virtual setting, which our graduates can take into college, career and life experience into the future.”

Available to recent Lowell high graduates and rising seniors, the program paired 40 interns with 13 host sites around the city, including Lowell High School and CTI. The students each received a $ 500 stipend and obtained 45-50 hours of work- based experience.

According to Nunn, the students developed skills in collaboration, team work, workplace communication, presentation, research and MS Office Suite.

Recent Lowell High grads and Commencement 2 Careers interns Shaveen Gachau and Bryan Montal said they appreciated the program for the practical skills it taught them.

“I learned how to be professional and how to use technology to my advantage, especially during this time,” Gachau said.

Gachau, 18, just started classes at UMass Boston, where she is majoring in international relations. Just a week into her freshman year Gachau said she has already used some of the technology she learned to use over the summer.

Montal, 18, jumped at the chance to participate in the program because he wanted workplace experience before starting college this fall. Montal is studying computer science at UMass Lowell.

“ Since I was going into college I wanted experience in any type of workplace,” Montal said. “ I just wanted to get experience at the intern level.”

Both Montal and Gachau interned through Lowell High School working with an English teacher to develop curriculum for the 2020-21 school year.

“ I’ve always seen it as a student but never as a teacher,” Montal said of the curriculum development.

Gachau was able to work with her senior year English teacher, Kendra Bauer, to help develop curriculum. According to Gachau, the interns were tasked with reading “ How To Be An Antiracist” and developing questions and worksheets for Bauer’s incoming students.

For Gachau, the internship came at an opportune time. She was supposed to intern for Lowell Alliance earlier this year, but it was canceled just a few weeks in due to the pandemic.

According to Nunn, Commencement 2 Careers was designed to accommodate students who need flexible schedules and who might have trouble finding transportation to and from their internships.

“ There are other interns who have other jobs and summer school and they’re able to fit time in,” Montal said.

Franky Descoteaux, director of the Entrepreneurship Center @ CTI, learned about the program through Nunn.

“LZ always puts together great stuff,” Descoteaux said. “Even in the pilot stage she’s got good ideas.”

Descoteaux participated as one of the 13 intern hosts and oversaw a team of interns who helped her with research. The Entrepreneurship Center had recently received some grants to connect with small, local businesses and help them through the pandemic.

The center’s interns were tasked with identifying all small businesses in the area, categorizing them by type of business and assign contacts. It was a large task that Descoteaux said would have been a challenge for her to complete without the help of the Commencement 2 Careers interns.

Beyond help completing the project, Descoteaux said she agreed to participate because she enjoys working with high school and college- age students.

“ I love helping young people in particular think about their life and what they create for themselves in their life,” Descoteaux said.

Commencement 2 Careers was funded by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, a grant from the state and private donors. Currently the organization is looking for funding for the next round of virtual internships.

Moving forward, Nunn said Project LEARN hopes to expand the program to serve over 100 students annually.

Both Montal and Gachau said they would recommend Commencement 2 Careers to other students.

“ If you ever need a referral for a job or another internship they’re very open to do it, they’re very good at answering questions ( about) getting a job or career or getting into higher education,” Gachau said. “ We don’t have a class on how to make your resume better, you don’t have a class that teaches you how to dress; these people are offering it.”

Lowell high class of 2020 graduates shaveen gachau and stacey mcguire, who have internships through project LEARN’s commencement 2 careers program, talk to Lowell high teacher Kendra Bauer. Gachau worked with Bauer, her senior year English teacher, to help develop curriculum. Gachau said the interns were tasked with reading ‘how to be An Antiracist’ and developing questions and worksheets for Bauer’s incoming students