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News Aug 25, 2014 - 1:24:15 PM

First Niagara Donates $100,000 in Support

By The First Niagara Foundation

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Representatives from First Niagara Bank present a $100,000 grant to Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk Community College in support of Norwalk Early College Academy. Pictured from left are: First Niagara Senior Communications Manager Karen Crane; Norwalk Community College Foundation Director of Development Scott Gentry; First Niagara Corporate Banking Team Leader Robert Cerminaro; First Niagara Risk Management Regional Director Bruce Rogers; Norwalk Community College President David L. Levinson, Ph.D.; Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Dr. Manuel Rivera; First Niagara Bank Tri-State Regional President, Cathie Schaffer; Norwalk Education Foundation Executive Director Gloria Tenofsky; Norwalk Early College Academy Director Karen Amaker; and Norwalk High School Principal Reginald Roberts. (contributed photo)
Norwalk, CT - The First Niagara Foundation, the charitable entity of First Niagara Bank, on Wednesday announced it has provided a partnership grant of $100,000 to the Norwalk Education Foundation ($50,000) and Norwalk Community College Foundation ($50,000) in support of a joint initiative to establish the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) at Norwalk High School.

NECA is a collaboration between Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College (NCC) and IBM Corporation, which follows a P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) model created by IBM. Designed around a grade 9-14 model, NECA combines elements of high school and college classes along with career mentoring and student internship opportunities, both provided by IBM. Students who successfully graduate from NECA, graduate with their college degree, and are career-ready, will be placed first in line for available jobs at IBM.

The first year of NECA is scheduled to begin August 27, with approximately 100 ninth-grade students from throughout the city enrolled in the program, which will be housed at Norwalk High School. Each student will be jointly enrolled at the high school and NCC, and will graduate with both a high school diploma and a no-cost Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from NCC. Approximately 100 new students will be added each successive year, with the program reaching a full complement of six cohorts and 600 students by 2019 (grades 9 through 14).

“First Niagara is proud to support the NECA students and this unique program that offers them a college degree and strong pathway to a successful career,” said First Niagara Tri-State Regional President, Cathie Schaffer. “We see a lot of value in this innovative model, which is skills-based and offers a curriculum designed in conjunction with the needs of future employers.”

NECA will be the first Early College Academy established in Connecticut and one of 27 P-TECH model schools nationwide. First Niagara’s combined grant provides funding to Norwalk Public Schools to help launch the “school in a school” program at Norwalk High School, and covers the cost for Norwalk Community College to offer a for-credit web design class to the incoming NECA freshman class.

“Norwalk Early College Academy is not only an exciting, new opportunity for Connecticut and for Norwalk, but also for other P-TECH model schools across the country,” said NCC President David L. Levinson, Ph.D. “First Niagara’s generous support will help prepare students for success in the global economy and give them a distinct competitive advantage in the workplace.”

While first-year NECA students will attend the majority of their classes at the high school, with a limited schedule of classroom work at the NCC campus, they will have access to all of the college’s facilities, including the library, gym and resource centers.

“We are committed to making sure that all Norwalk students are prepared to reach their highest potential for college and career, and NECA fits in perfectly with that goal,” said Dr. Manuel J. Rivera, superintendent, Norwalk Public School “We’re extremely grateful for the support of corporate partners like First Niagara on this very important initiative.”

For more information on NECA, please visit:

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